The words I Can’t Breathe seem quite simple on the surface. Who could have predicted that these words would come to define a moment, perhaps a movement, to close out the year 2014? Anyone who has ever struggled to breathe, nearly drowned or choked or lives with asthma, knows that this phrase is anything but simple. It’s an expression of a struggle.
I’m usually a very jolly person in December, despite the darkness and the cold, despite the deadlines that come with the turn of a calendar page. This season of giving feels different. Growing pains are preventing us from breathing collectively in peace and harmony.
When I played music to the tune of rehearsals three out of the seven nights of the week, or when I ran cross county and track and field breathing meant the difference between success and failure. One can’t do much of anything without deep breaths of fresh, clean, strength-giving air. It calms the nerves, centers the energy, and keeps us at an even keel.
Our society is struggling to breathe because not everyone is free. Potential and opportunity are measured by zip code and class, and the dreams are squashed far too early for far too many people. When the dream becomes not a yearning for success but a struggle for survival we all lose.
However, in this season of giving, I do believe in hope. #ICantBreathe represents an awakening. It might be a tall order for everyone to get along, but #ICantBreathe is about giving everyone a fair chance. Breathing as a society means recognizing in our bones that we are all on this rock hurtling through space together. We might not always agree, but none of us have the right to stand in the way of another’s potential.
Please share if you believe #ICantBreathe can and should become the closing chapter on centuries of class and racial oppression and the beginning of a more harmonious, just world. Please share if you’d like to see #ICantBreathe represent constructive change for the better. I, for one, believe humans are still capable of empathy and compassion. It is what gives us souls.
Season’s Greetings, each and every one.