For whom the bell tolls
Murders senseless or not always bother me but some get to me more than others. This is one. In September, shortly after my family moved to Oakland, a young man named Antonio Ramos was shot while painting a mural for peace. This happened at around 10:30 in the morning at an intersection I pass often on my way to the store.
While many people may have forgotten about it, I have not. I feel the need to honor this young man.
Antonio seemed to believe in some similar things to me. I could see myself doing what he was doing (if I could paint). At his memorial his brother spoke of “innermies” a concept Antonio had created. It means to search for answers inside of yourself rather than outside, to get involved in the community and to be aware of the power and knowledge within the self, encouraged us all to be the change that we would like to see in our lives. This rings so true to my values.
And then there is this.
I light candles there when I pass and yesterday for some reason I didn’t want to. I was feeling lazy but I forced myself and as I walked up I saw that someone had knocked over the table and broken the candles. I lit my candles and left but it has stayed with me and compiled me to write this blog.
Seeing the memorial knocked over triggered thoughts about anger and hate. I don’t know if it was done in anger. Maybe it was done with no emotion at all. Here is the impact it had on me.
It initiated my fight or flight response. I had two reactions. 1) Leave: what if this person was retaliating and connected to the murderer. Maybe I really shouldn’t be here!! 2) They want to mess up his memorial, I am coming back with something bigger. Number 2 won out so I guess I should thank whom ever knocked it over for motivating me to honor Antonio even more. If I end up getting killed for lighting candles in his memory then I guess I should say thank you again. Thank you for making me a martyr for a cause I believe in.
No one (other than Chris) knows I have been stopping at his memorial and I have a feeling a few will tell me not to, that it is dangerous. It probably is and maybe I will stop.
But here is the problem I have with that. We live in a dangerous world of our own creation.
And out of all the places in that world I have found myself in Oakland. I am lucky, I can afford to live above the ghetto, but distancing yourself from others and calling yourself safe as a result is an illusion.
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.” John Dunne