As I sit here in the middle of technical rehearsals for Sons of the Prophet at Theater J in Washington DC, shaken emotionally from the turmoil that rattled through the streets and venues of Paris last night, it also forced a new thought into my mind: "What about here? What about where I live in DC?"
I was out with my friend last night, she is currently a lead in the National Opera's Appomatix at the Kennedy Center, she and I both sat in a restaurant near our homes meeting for some friendly frivolity and good eats at the local Copper Canyon Grille, I sat there and thought, what about us? What about right now? What happens if a gunman pulls out an assault riffle and shoots us, right here, in the midst of our dinner? What happens to Leah? What happens to me? What happens to the world and the lives we're living? Will someone know to call our stage managers and tell them we're unable to come in? Will someone notify my parents? Will someone even be able to identify my body? What if it is a bomb instead of a gun? Will I be able to have my death plans still intact? Will my soul find heaven? Will my loved ones guide my journey to the next realm? What happens to the survivors? Will I be one of them?
I am terrified.
September 11th happened a while ago, but I remember it like yesterday. I lived in a town 7 miles from a mostly inactive military base. Terror to a 12 year old is watching military trucks roll in like it was a post apocalyptic film. Watching gas stations run out of gas, watching people panic, watching inactivity go to full blown training center for death and destruction in the efforts of war. Suddenly, it hit home. Knowing now what that feeling was like, I cannot fathom the profound sense of grief, loss, and pure terror of being in an active situation like Paris has seen, and yet, it is the societal norm in many middle eastern countries and for many other locations in the world. The normal is terror, hatred, and death. When did the world become this way? Why?
Can we change the world through love?
I can only hope that the world is changing. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's dream has been realized in some small capacities, and yet, there are MILES to go before we walk hand in hand, arm in arm, together. We have marriage equality, we have strong people of every ethnicity in many locations, but it is not enough. What is enough? What goal do we feel is the appropriate end? Is there an end? Can others find a similar path to healing and rebuilding? Who is right?
I had the very good fortune to work alongside and see the work of some very influential people of this era. Both in Chautauqua, and here in DC, Eva DuVernay, director of Selma the film, spoke at Chautauqua about her thoughts in directing this pivotal American film. She mentioned that her interest sparks not only from growing up in the namesake town, but also hearing the push for freedom, the cry of the mother who's child was dumped at a hospital and not taken care of, and the terror of the unknown members of the KKK knocking on your door with bricks while crosses burn in your front lawn. I have to wonder, is this how the people of the Middle East feel? Are these terror plots comparable? Is comparison right?
Sons of the Prophet may not be directly about anything to do with terror and all the horrible awful going on in the world; and yet, to me, it has everything to do with terror in life, A gay man works for health insurance to survive, a father's death, an uncle's concern for family, a boss who has nothing but her assistant, a brother torn on where to care, and a sense of desperation about being alone in the world. Is this where we find the root of the world's problems? In our differences? Is it too difficult to accept each other for the uniqueness that is our global differences?
Food for thought on this Saturday.