“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
A young man was shot to death in Little Village last week. His older brother is someone I grew to know over the years of work there, someone I consider a friend. The victim’s wake was on what would have been his 23rd birthday. There were balloons next to his casket.
It seems there’s a churn of violence that touches everything and everyone in some way and it does feel hopeless at times. But those who survive shootings or bury their loved ones … people become connected through these acts in a visceral way. When I feel optimistic, it’s because in the middle of all this, people connected by violence working to make it stop, by standing, by trying to, between one act and the next.
In all its forms, with all its consequences, trauma is a loss of power and agency but also a disruption of our ability to relate and see into each other. The response to trauma that allows people to feel, to connect with the world again … often it’s rooted in love. As a coping mechanism but as a way of building resilience too.
Last couple months I have been thinking a lot about something Jorge Roque, one of the outreach workers we met in Little Village, said at a vigil around this time in 2016.
This quote seems relevant here. It represents the way the Jorge and other outreach workers move through the world. They radiate love, everywhere, with everyone. And the longer I’m away from the city and the neighborhood, the greater my appreciation for them and their work.
Jorge’s voice was hoarse. He was close with with the victim, and it had been a long couple days. It was cold and late in the afternoon. Dark grew around the vigil.
“For the guys that are here man, show love to each other. We never know when it’s the last time that I’ll see someone or you’re gonna see me. It could happen to any of us. Show love to each other. Show respect to each other. Give each other hugs. Tell each other I love you. Don’t be afraid as men to tell people te quiero, te amo. Como hijos, como madres, padres, abraza los quierer los. Dejanse que se quieren, que se aman.”
That’s it, for now.
Life is short. Show love.