V’ahavta, by Aurora Levins Morales
(click on the link above to read the whole wonderful poem)
Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up,
when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning
and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts,
embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders,
teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies,
recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire:
Another world is possible.
In about one hour is the March for Our Lives in Champaign-Urbana. It is a cold and nasty day. I hope that people will still come; bundled up and inspired to stand closer together to block the cold wind and generate more warmth between us (doing this alone is maybe at the very heart of the whole thing). I feel like I should make a sign but I have so much I want to say and it doesn’t fit on a poster.
I want to mutter to myself the Hebrew phrase I learned and practiced on the MLK Day Yoga Love Raiser; Va’havta, And You Shall Love.
And you shall love. and You shall love. and you Shall love. and you shall Love. And You Shall Love. And you shall love. And you shall love. And you shall love. And you shall love. And you shall love. And you shall love. And you shall love. Got it?
I want to make a huge billboard sized poster listing all of the things that Save Life. In these parts of central Illinois we are assaulted by offensive roadside signs that give a poorly written story of violence and then a gun swoops in and saves the day, somehow. It always ends with “Guns Save Life”. I want to just paint over them with flowers, birds, and scenes of the beautiful prairie that they are set in.
So, here is my short-off the top of my head-list of all the things that Save Life. Like real and actual Life Saving Things. I’m not talking about metaphors or anything that can’t be measured. I’m talking about Things that Save Life. A Gun is meant to harm, at the very least. It is meant to be shot at someone to harm or kill. Obviously it is being used to protect self or other. I get it.
Honest to Goodness Life Saving Things!
- Clean Water
- Traffic signals! (Seriously)
- Seat Belts
- Asthma Inhalers
- Prenatal Care
- Car seats
- Colonoscopy (I just saw Jimmy Kimmel get one…did you see that?)
- C-PAP Machines (those sleep apnea machines)
- Life Preservers (how did this take so long for me to remember?)
- Insulin shots
- Safe sanitation
- Asbestos-free paint
- what else????
Surely there about 10 kajillion other technological advancements that have become so commonplace but are in fact Saving Lives all of the time!! Let’s shout for joy and give thanks for those things! Let’s make sure Inhalers & Epi-pens & Prenatal care & Clean Water & Appropriate Sanitation systems are there for everyone because They Actually Really Do Save Lives!!! Guns Do Not. Guns only kill, harm, and hate.
And now I need to go bundle up and head out to the March. Pray for us. All of us. We shall love. We shall love. We shall Love. V’ahavta.
The end of the above poem by Aurora Levins Morales is;
Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth
Into the throat with which you sing. Escalate your dreams.
Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down
any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way.
Make them burn clear as a starry drinking gourd
Over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.
Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining.
So that we, and the children of our children’s children
Peace on all our heads,