Life and Death

A screenshot of a tweet that reads "Work is an addiction that will literally kill you. We are all replaceable to institutions, but not to those who love us. Reminding myself because I need to hear it."

A little over three years ago, I tweeted the above tweet (which came up in my Facebook memories on the three year anniversary of the post).

Two weeks ago, at a work-related conference, I was involved in a health-related accident that, had it gone slightly differently, might have led to my death. This is not an exaggeration or over-dramatization. I am grateful to be alive.

I have not talked about this incident extensively because I didn’t want people to worry; I was not seriously injured; and I haven’t had the mental and emotional bandwidth to process what happened. The world is also experiencing multiple genocides and extended warfare which feels much more important to amplify than focusing on my own existence.

I am writing this blog now for a few reasons: 1) I have to deal with the fact that I almost died, then the next day, just went on like nothing happened. This is not normal; 2) Life is so precious and so fragile. There is no time more than the present for us to embrace this and focus our energy on our collective humanity; 3) When I was not sure if I was going to be okay, the one thing that I worried about most was who I was leaving behind, and how my family would be if I was not here. In the moments when I was in the ambulance on the way to the ER, I felt profoundly alone. In the last few weeks, I have felt profoundly alone. So mostly, I am writing this because I cannot keep going alone; we cannot keep going alone.

Our society, academia, hypercapitalism, fear, scarcity, pride, all of it pushes us towards disembodiment, towards dissociation and towards dehumanization, of ourselves and others. This has become so clear for me in the last two weeks. We often spend our time justifying and defending what we think is “right” even when it costs us (or others) our (or their) lives.

Every person should have a right to live, to feel safe, to have clean water, to have enough to eat, to live in peace. These should not be controversial statements.

I am an educator. Children and families are my heart.

Friends, people are dying; so many children and families are dying or being irreparably broken. Thousands of people in genocides in Palestine (and less widely publicized in Sudan). Hundreds of thousands displaced in these same countries and in the Congo. This does not take away from the loss of 1400 Israeli lives on October 7. However, neither does one loss of life justify the loss of many, many others.

As someone who is deeply acquainted with grief and loss, blame and justification do NOTHING to bring back those who have been killed. Anger and dehumanization only serve to destroy us.

I am not judging anyone who responds to trauma with anger. It’s not my place. But I am holding on to another way. I believe in Dr. King’s words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I also believe in calls to hold out hope in these dark times.

But we can only hold on to light, love and hope if we hold on to one another.

We have to keep one another safe. We have to resist those that would put being right ahead our our shared humanity.

Finally, I just want to say, because I am alive and I can, that if you are someone with whom I am connected, I deeply love you and value your humanity. That is not conditional on our agreement. We never know when we will not see those we love again so I want you to know this.

There aren’t more words and this hasn’t been coherent, but that’s all I have for now, in a time that is beyond words. Thanks for reading.

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