Robin Williams and Mike Brown died two days apart. Robin Williams was 63 and took his own life on August 11th. Michael Brown was 18 and was shot to death by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9th. Both deaths break my heart. I imagine the pain and suffering that Williams must have lived with. I know that many of us live and struggle with such pain and suffering, and despite apparent successes, or the happy faces we wear, inside we ache or are numb.
And when I see pictures of a once living, smiling Michael Brown, I can’t help but think of a once living, smiling Trayvon Martin. While all of the details are not yet clear, what is clear is that once again, a young, unarmed black man has been shot. I grieve for everyone involved, including the police office who pulled the trigger. I can only begin to imagine the grief and anger that Brown’s family and the Ferguson community feel. Despite strides made around racial equality in this country, the fact remains that much of this country was build upon the bodies of black men, women, and children, as well as the resources and land of Native Peoples. We are still living with the aftermath of centuries of slavery and violence against people of color. We are still living with a racial narrative that says black men are dangerous and violent, their lives worth less than white lives.
Depression and despair are real. Racism, and the daily verbal, emotional, and physical violence against people of color, is real, as well. Our broken hearts, anger, and suffering are real. So when we are suffering, let us remember that we need not suffer or struggle alone. If you are carrying a great sadness about Williams, Brown, or anything else, please reach out to me, or Rev. Jen, Rev. Elaine, or Rev. Ruth.
At First Universalist, we have promised (covenanted) to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another. We can’t bring back Williams or Brown, but we can reach out to one another; we can strengthen our commitment to work for a racially just world; we can break the silence around depression and mental illness. Even with broken hearts, we can reach out to one another in love.
*The title of this post is inspired by this video: