I wrote this yesterday. I don't know if it says quite what I want to say, but here it is.
Yesterday, a man opened fire on a synagogue just a few miles from my house. Just a few miles from my house, a white nationalist killed a woman in a house of prayer and wounded three other people. A few miles away from me, in a town where we say “The schools are good,” and “It is a great place to raise a family,” and “It is safe,” a woman died after leaping in front of a bullet to save the life of her rabbi.
Today I left my house and drove a few miles and stood on a corner with a small crowd of people in that safe town. We wore black and held signs and waved at the passing cars who honked and waved in support. Some of us cried and a few people spoke with anger and fear in their voices but mostly we just stood and held our signs and waved, together.
This morning I spent an hour in my bed, crying, and then I got up and went and joined people on a street corner in order to feel like I was doing anything at all. Tonight I will take my family out for noodles and frozen treats, and I’ll watch my children smile, and I’ll wonder about all the things the world will show them that I can do nothing about. My youngest, four, doesn’t know much about the world’s cruelty yet. We keep it from her, mostly, and this is a luxury so many children don’t get. Just a few miles away, a child is in the hospital after being shot by a man whose fear and anger was manipulated into violence.
My son, hearing about this man’s fears, denounced them as unfounded. And yet, I told him, it doesn’t matter what’s real to our feeling of fear. Fear feeds anger, anger leads to violence, even without reason.
This morning I cried for an hour. I mourned, yes, for a woman’s life, lost, and for two men and a girl wounded so senselessly. I mourned, too, for the life we all were promised, that safe place, those good schools, a Saturday morning with no thought but home, family, an easy peace needing no defense, no vigilance. Yes, a life—mine—not of fighting or fear but of breakfast cereal and books and socks to be folded, of growing old, of dancing together in our living room, in a house where nothing bad happens, not really. A life, maybe, that never existed, not really, but I didn’t know it yet.
I hope that, wherever you are, you have what you need right now. If you have enough to spare, please consider making a donation to Chabad of Poway, to help their recovery.