A New Story

I remember when I worked as a young nurse in Alaska. My brilliant colleague had recently arrived to work with us. She grew up in India. One evening, we were walking on the tundra (probably berry picking, but I don’t exactly recall). She looked at me and said in her thick British/Indian accent, “Amber, I do not understand why kids here go to school and shoot each other. In India, it is a privilege to go to school.” 

That was 20 years ago. I lived in Bethel, Alaska, and the tiny town was still reeling from a school shooting in the mid-90’s. 

The societal illness underlying this story continues to spread and plague my beloved “United” States of America.

I recently watched the documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.  Amazing life. Phenomenal woman. Nobel prize winner and much more. Her writing opens people to connect to their feelings and witness through story that love can transcend the most trying, painful times. She literally lived her words, If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

There is a new story that wants to be written.  It reflects Martin Luther King, Jr’s words, “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.” 

This new story is a reckoning of minds, hearts, words and deeds. It doesn’t come through blaming and finger-pointing, but rather through a deep accountability in every human conscience - being aware of each thought that turns into word and then into action, and how this projects into the world. Does it heal or does it destroy? 

It is a story of union, starting from within oneself and moving out into the community. It’s a story where my country lives up to its name UNITED States of America, where we can fly our flags at full mast because we love our neighbors as ourselves, and hence, do not destroy one another. It’s a story that welcomes diversity to the table for its gift of perspective. In this new story - respect, diplomacy and consideration are valued more than money and fame. It’s a story where we strive to heal each other, build healing systems and as my former boss in Alaska once said to me, “leave this world a little better than when we got here.”   



It’s a simple story; and it’s not a matter of if we can do it, but when will we choose to do it?