As the stage of modern history shifts to become one filled with chaos and confusion, marred by violence and a normalization to death, pain, and tragedy, evolution is necessary. Humans, if nothing else, are miraculous in our chameleon tendencies: hiding and hoping that something, some light, will survive.
But now, through years of a global pandemic and an uptick in American gun violence, this country is at an impasse. As death has increasingly become an expectation, treated as if it were nothing, this is the moment, of all the moments, that we discover how we are going to change. Are we going to become complicit to the pain of others, even if not brought by our own hand? Or are we finally going to do something? Be that difference?
With all of this pressure and possibility, I am terrified. Of what? With what? I don’t know. Is there an answer to express the length and depth of fear intrinsic to one’s character? I don’t know.
Am I scared of the horrors that I read about online, the worst possible parts of the human race transcribed into a language I wish was only known by the darkest recesses of my mind?
Or, perhaps, I’m scared of the inverse of this. When all of my questions find their marks stolen because I want to stop knowing. Is that what I’m scared of.
I don’t know. I don’t even know what has brought us here: to a place in our song where so many voices have been silenced, but we must continue to sing anyway, as if we are still one. What has led to this? To see that our parents have suffered as we have suffered. To wonder if our children will suffer, and still not make a change.
Will we be that difference? Will there be a day when I am no longer terrified? Or is this the best the world will ever be.
I don’t know.
The cost of living is a dead man’s truth: we are so constantly surrounded by death that a reality of numbness is not a symptom or a side effect of being alive, it is what it means to be alive. From a young age, we learn not just that we will die, but that some deaths are going to be better than others. Life is a privilege, and our bookend should be treated as if it is nothing, because we are nothing.
Out of everything out there in the world, in this horrible, horrible world, what is a normal reaction to this? To know there is someone out there who has been in pain, and someone else who is in pain? Who is now irreparably broken?
What is normal supposed to mean?
Haven’t we all become used to being terrified.
Writing and photography by Hazel J. Hall.