There is a scene from a movie that has been playing on repeat in my head. It’s from the documentary film Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore.
In the scene, Moore is talking with Marilyn Manson, and he asks, “If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?”
Marilyn Manson’s response:
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”
There are things in this world that are beyond my direct experience. I do not know what it is like to be black in America. I do not know the experience of being a member of the LGBT community. I do not know the ins and outs of being a police officer or the spouse/partner of one.
There is no way for me to say with any perfect certainty the phrase “I understand,” because without direct experience, there is no way to fully understand.
What I can do is empathize. What I can do is give an honest attempt at understanding. What I can do is show love and respect for the diverse makeup of people in my life. I can support efforts of peace and equality. I can agree that black lives matter. I can be saddened by the losses of life in Baton Rouge, Dallas, St. Paul, and so many other places around the country. I can agree that there is a problem.
And going back to what Marilyn Manson said in Bowling for Columbine, I can listen.
Much love to you.