Sunday, March 19, 2017

     Last night, we attended a fabulous production of Brownsville Song, a poignant play about one poor black family from Brooklyn, New York. The production began with a monologue delivered by a middle-aged black grandmother who had just lost her 18-year-old grandson to a senseless murder. The message in her soliloquy was, “This is just one more of those.” She tearfully spoke of “those” as “hers,” and asked us to think about what it would feel like it one of “those” was “ours.” 

      The point is that when we read about senseless killings, especially in impoverished neighborhoods, we don’t get upset. We barely react, as it is so common. We have become numb to violence, as long as it doesn’t impact us. Well, all violence impacts all of us, and
the play goes on to show us the family dynamics and the struggle poor young people have trying to make it out of the ghetto.

     The play was riveting. The acting was phenomenal, and the message hit home. It is true. We have become numb to much of the violence and vulgarity in our society because there is so much of it.  Most of the local violence doesn’t even make the papers, much less a headline. The more there is, the more numb we become. How tragic is that? Would we be numb if one of our children was shot senselessly walking down the street? Would we be numb if our spouse was mugged or shot randomly from a neighboring car on the freeway? 

     The issue isn’t even the numb; it’s the lack of power to do anything about the violence. When our leaders are numb to our voices, we are powerless. That powerlessness fuels rage, and the next thing we know, there is more violence. Reasonable voices fall on deaf ears. 

    I was reminded last night of the message that came out of the recent Oscars ceremony:  theatre and film are powerful voices for those whose cannot be heard. That play last night spoke so loudly, and people in the audience had to hear the words and see the results. Our devices were turned off, and our attention was on the stage. We paid to be entertained and enlightened. Some may not call what we saw last night “entertaining,” but to me, the message that resonated loudly and clearly engaged my mind and made me think. Am I powerless? Are you? What can we do to un-numb ourselves? What can we do to stop the violence?