Safe Spaces

The last ten days has been a barrage of information with no trigger warnings, and I’ve observed people I love come unhinged. Some decry a national disaster, others wave flags and post mean-spirited memes in retribution for a decade of attempted silencing and shaming that failed, that instead nourished beasts we thought we’d vanquished a generation ago. The promise of hope and change and a post-racial society was a mirage, and vigilant people could see it plainly, some sooner, some later.

The young and the sensitive and the fearful (ill-equipped as they are for the inherent vulnerability of the privilege of existing) demanded “safe spaces” to insulate them from the ugliness that has always been the dark side of the bright light of freedom. They built their walls and hurled shame-grenades at anyone who would dare challenge them to survive in a messy, real life that has no place for illusion. But their safe spaces couldn’t protect them from the movement of those who wouldn’t be defamed by self-righteous hyperbole.

As I process my observations, I think of the chipmunk. He is vulnerable in his world; snakes are preparing to hibernate just as he is, and they would pounce on him as a pre-winter snack. But he continues to scuttle around, storing up provisions, creating his own safe space, with no guarantees. He does what he was created to do, what instinct dictates, despite his vigilance and fear. The snake, too, has enemies; the eagle that soars above, and the hawk, are not particular if the snake is easy pickings. But the chipmunk knows, without knowing, one truth – the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. The raptor is just as likely to snatch a chipmunk as a snake.

My task is the same as it has always been: to remain vigilant in "victory," to remain vigilant in "defeat," to know those words are only an illusion. Stay under cover from hawks, don’t fraternize with snakes. Gather my own supplies, and create my own safety.

Richmond, VA

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