Do you remember this? That’s right, it’s the infamous scene of Tyra yelling at Tiffany as she leaves America’s Next Top Model. Tyra’s gotten a lot of shit for this scene but I get it. Tyra says that, “When my mother yells like this it’s because she loves me.” I get it.
I remember an incident when my niece was about five. She was playing in her room and she’d been quiet for a while. I was on my way to check on her when I heard a huge, terrifying crash. With my heart in my throat I turned the corner to see my bewildered niece standing in the middle of her room looking at her bookcase lying on the floor just inches from where she stood.
She may have been crying. I can’t remember. When I asked her what happened she said she had wanted something on the top shelf and had tried to scale the bookcase which had started to fall. Luckily, she’d jumped out of the way. The panic I had felt when I first heard the crash was nothing to the cold dread that overwhelmed me as I thought about the million things that could have happened if she hadn’t been lucky enough to get out of the way in time.
I. Was. Furious.
I was so scared and so angry that she would do something as stupid as put herself in danger. I think I yelled at her then. I told her to never, ever do anything like that again. I told her to get a grown-up to get things off the top shelf–that’s a grown up’s job. I think she cried more from my yelling than from the fright of the bookcase but I didn’t care. I was just so scared and angry and intent on making sure that she knew to never, ever, ever put herself in danger again.
I remember similar moments from my own childhood. Moments when my mom yelled at me not because she was angry, per se, but because I had put myself in danger and she was terrified for me.
As an adult I remember the fury I felt when a tornado touched down in the same town as my then-partner. I desperately tried to get a hold of him for hours. When we finally did connect he told me he had been working in his office and away from his phone. I was furious. I was furious that he’d made me worry and I was furious that he had put himself in danger by not listening to the weather alerts or tornado sirens.
I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the Dixie Chicks song “More Love.” The Dixie Chicks call this their version of a good patriotic song. I get that. I’ve been thinking about patriotism and more love for the past few weeks because every day I wake up to a world that is drowning in hateful fuckery and I feel helpless.
I agree with the Dixie Chicks that, “If there’s ever an answer it’s more love.” I do. I believe that and I want to do my part to bring more love into the world.
What I remembered today is that love is not the same as calm. Love is not the same as quiet. Love is not the same as polite. Love is not the same as peace.
Sometimes love is loud. Sometimes love is angry. Sometimes love is hard-edged. Sometimes love is disruptive.
This is true whether it is Jesus fashioning a whip to chase the money lenders out of the temple, Tyra yelling at Tiffany, or me yelling at my bewildered niece.
Because I love my country and because I love people I am furious. Because I love justice I will do my best to disrupt injustice. Because I love democracy I cannot be calm as fascism is advocated by leading presidential candidates.
Love is not peace. As many have said before me and will say after me:
No justice. No peace.