My People’s Promise
I was 22 years old. I had never flown before. I had never traveled further than the Central Time Zone before. And, I was scheduled to go to Israel with Kyra and her family during the Second Intafada. Prior to our departure, I visited home. My people were worried. I was too. But, my Aunt reassured us all.
“If anything happens, no matter what” she growled “we’re gonna get our guns and come get you.”
My people broke out in a collective “Hell Yeah!”
“It will be all right” I told them.
So, they let me go.
And, it was.
Yet, on one of our walks through Jerusalem, the Israel Defense Forces rushed passed to detonate an unaccompanied backpack. In that moment, I had never felt so distant from my people. But, I found comfort in my people’s promise.
Yes, it was fantastical.
The idea of the Schoonover Clan rolling over the dunes to crash the gates of the Old City in my Aunt’s El Camino was absurd.
But, I believed they would do what they had to do to get me back.
Some may say that such a ridiculous promise does not warrant being vocalized.
That promise still rings in my ears.
I have made that same promise to Dillon.
“If anything happens, no matter what, I will come get you.”
Indeed, over the years, I have added some logistical flourishes.
“The truck is always gassed up. And, I’ve got a bat, a truncheon and a machete behind the back seat, just in case you, your mom and I need to throw down together.”
Unlike a lot of my people, I do not own guns.
I’ll shoot them. I just don’t own them.
And, unlike a lot of my people, I did not vote for Donald Trump.
I have never felt so distant from so many of my people.
I cannot stop thinking about my people’s promise.
It is a primal promise.
We humans have been making that promise to our kin for tens of thousands of years. Back then, we needed to. It was a more violent time. Maybe just maybe, it was the credibility of that promise that allowed early humans to venture forth on their own to explore new lands.
It is a powerful promise.
I am sure that promise was also used to keep people in line.
Can you imagine having that promise rescinded 100, 500, or 1,000 years ago?
It is only while wrapped in the arms of my people that I feel securely anchored.
And, that is why I cannot stop thinking of my people’s promise.
Post election, I feel apart.
I do not like this feeling.
Indeed, I feel this pull to quietly accept the results of the election.
I cannot lose my people’s promise.
Now, none of my people have asked this of me.
But, I feel the need to come back into the fold.
And, if I do, I worry that I will become one of those “good people” that activists so frequently talk about.
I am nice. I do the right things. I say the right things. But, in the end, I will not do the things that need to be done.
My people’s promise or my politics?
What will I choose?
Do I have to choose?
That promise is a dual force of nature.
Yes, it can push me to fall back in line.
But, it can also give me the courage to venture forth and voice my dissent.
It can give me the courage to join my people in complex and emotionally charged conversations.
I will hold them to their promise.
They said: “No matter what”
And, in return, I will make them a promise.
“If anything happens, no matter what” and right now you need to know that I am growling “I will get my machete and come get you.”
I think I found my way forward.