Jose Luis Vilson: It’s Okay To Not Have The Words
Jose Luis Vilson is a teacher, grad student, and writer, and he offers a thoughtful reflection on the work of processing feelings and creating safety.
Something that people underrate when it comes to creating safe and brave spaces is that there may be significant pressure from interlocutors of the culture to have exactly the right words for the moment. A part of that might be how we’ve never had this much textual information with such ease of access in human history. That access has given us a plethora of sources from which to generate opinions and messaging that align well with what we may be feeling at the moment, whether it’s the right meme, short video, or cartoon. We don’t always give ourselves the opportunity to let a moment marinate, opting for the perfect tweet, short video, or screenshot.
As the news reports and research flood in from various sources, we may seek to name the sadness, the rage, and the mourning in digestible bits. And we then seek to document that with something thoughtful, relevant, and connected to the moment. We don’t have to.
In fact, maybe the right words are the ones you have right there, including the plethora of swear words in our arsenal. Maybe it’s simply saying “I don’t like this” to whomever you find in earshot. How else can you meet the political bystander effect sweeping through so many of our politicians who otherwise have no shortage of speeches during re-election with anything other than actual anger and sadness? A silver lining in globalization is that now we see how other countries have quickly handled similar incidents as soon as they happen while America lets millions of people die by not passing legislation that will literally save children. We get to share the fissures in the rhetoric, too. Safety can’t be predicated on who has more guns but on whether guns are easily accessible in the first place. While police officers literally stood by as the onslaught happened within the schools, a community up north in Buffalo, NY was mourning its elders and educators who were murdered only a week and a half before.
Rage doesn’t necessitate all the words, but it does necessitate naming it rage.