I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches. —Alice Roosevelt Longworth
I almost didn’t write anything today. I feel empty. Immense pain fills my shoulders and elbows and fingers. Keeping my eyes open is a challenge despite the strong coffee. I had to push myself to make anything happen.
From where I’m sitting the glass seems half empty. After two days of severe storms, my muscles want to contract, my joints don’t want to move, and any pressure on my knees feels extreme. Having to keep children inside for the better part of two days was exhausting, leaving me with little energy to deal with them today. The lawn needs cutting but there’s still water standing across the yard so that’s not likely to happen. I’m aching to try out some different angles on a set of figure studies, but not only do I not have time, I’m not even sure who I would ask to pose.
Looking outside myself doesn’t help much, either. A new documentary, Living Wage Now!, chronicles the real world challenges, difficulties, and dangers of the Asian garment industry. The picture of forced sex, violence, and even workers being shot at goes beyond the horrors we’ve previously imagined. At the same time, fast fashion giant Uniqlo is positioning itself to become the largest apparel maker in the world. Given that fast fashion is much of the motivation behind garment factory horrors, it would seem that there is little chance of reform.
As we still pick apart the details of Sunday’s shooting in Orlando, I find myself angered by the fact that the shooter’s wife actually went with him to buy ammo knowing exactly what he was planning to do with it. How does a person know that someone is planning such a horrendous act and not say something to someone? I understand that she was a battered wife, but once he left the house she could have called someone. A grand jury decides later this month whether she’ll be charged as an accessory to murder.
Then, there’s the news of the two-year-old being dragged into a lagoon by an alligator at a Disney resort. That’s just one of those things a parent never expects, especially from a Disney property. As a nation, we’re captivated by the story because we cannot imagine experiencing such a horror ourselves.
All that and more leaves us with a glass that is struggling to be only half empty. If that were my only exposure to the world this morning, I would consider the glass completely empty, toss Pop Tarts at the kids, turn on Netflix for them, and go back to bed. That sounds like a very tempting scenario at the moment.
Yet, there are things that combat that empty perspective.
First, we didn’t get the brunt of the storms the past two days. There are thousands of people across the region who lost power, have large trees down in their yard, and are still dealing with serious flooding this morning. Kat had to dodge downed power lines and high water on her way home last night, but she did make it home safely.
Justice may finally come for the 1,400 garment workers who died in the 2013 building collapse and fire at Rana Plaza. A Dhaka court framed charges against 18 people yesterday for knowingly violating building codes. While the speed of movement, in this case, has been painfully slow, at least they’re making progress.
At least one politician has changed his attitude following Sunday’s shooting. Utah’s Lieutenant Governor, Spencer Cox, apologized to the LGBT community in a speech he made on Monday. He not only apologized for his own attitude, but he challenged other straight people as well:
How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 am in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.
As always, whenever another mass shooting takes place, the talking heads made the rounds on news shows making the same arguments for and against gun control that they’ve been making the past 30 years. Yesterday, someone finally took decisive action. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut filibustered an appropriations bill with demands for tighter gun control legislation. It was a gutsy move, but quickly enough he was joined by 37 other senators and the filibustered continued until GOP leadership finally backed down and agreed to consider new gun control legislation. Is this a solution? No, but it is the first decisive step we’ve seen toward one.
So, there’s some full to balance out the empty.
Still, I’m having problems finding that positive attitude this morning. There have been so many negative things happen this week that I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect the week to end balanced. Perhaps this is one of those times we have to accept that the glass really is half empty.
And be thankful we still have a glass.