Stop saying “we” will survive this.
Stop saying “we” survived Hitler. Six million of us didn’t.
Stop saying “we” survived Nixon. One point seven million of us didn’t.
Stop saying “we” survived Reagan. More than 20,000 of us didn’t.
Stop saying “we” survived Bush. Stop saying “we” survived the Civil War. Stop saying “we” survived anything.
Maybe you mean to comfort. You probably do.
We don’t get better by surviving things.
I know that’s mean to say, because you have a whole story in your head constructed about how what you went through tempered you and made you into steel, about the lessons you learned and the things you became in your moments of extremity. You have a thousand bumper stickers about killing, about making stronger. You have a dozen mantras and you’re repeating them because you want to believe them. I know that’s mean, but it’s true.
This country, this WORLD, doesn’t get better because people survive things.
It gets better because people are willing to put their survival at risk.
It got better because of Abraham Lincoln.
It got better because of Martin Luther King.
It got better because of everyone who stormed the beaches at Normandy and every man and woman who protested at Kent State. It got better because of the Freedom Riders. It got better because of the pamphleteers. It got better because of everyone at Stonewall and everyone at Seneca Falls, every march on Washington saying shove your war.
Women got the vote in no small part because Alice Paul starved herself in prison to ask rights of a Democratic president. Because Susan B. Anthony was beaten in the street. Because Ida B. Wells lived under daily threat of lynching. Those people didn’t “survive” something. That wasn’t their goal.
And a lot of them didn’t survive. A lot of them threw their bodies on the wheels and gave everything they had to stop what was happening.
America didn’t survive their losses. America is America because of their losses. Because of their sacrifices. Because of their heroism.
Don’t say “we” will survive this. “We” might not. Not all of us.
Say we, all of us, will fight this.
That, we can promise. That, we can stand behind. That, we can do.