Riley shooting…

Dear Editor,

Am I odd for mourning during holidays?  Take Thanksgiving, for example, I cannot help thinking about the genocide of our Native Americans or starving modern refugees around the world (who would be thankful for a morsel of our feast).  I mean, are all the people that take their own lives around Christmas odd, or is it normal for humanity to offer grief, to create a balance, during gluttonous myrrh?

As much as I may try to dive in completely, abandoning all shame, I cannot shake my celebratory sorrow.  On this upcoming holiday, for instance, I will witness the happiness of my children and in this there will be true joy, and…  I will likely shudder with each gun-sounding firework, empathize with the local terrified dogs and estimate the cost of each explosion.  I will consider the “bloody Brittish” and the irony that our country now controls much of the world.  Are some of those U.S. occupied countries longing for their own Independence Day From us?  “Independence” Day?   Powers greater than Britain (like fear, greed, violence, etc) are still powers that our country is dependent on.

I will be thinking often of Jeanetta, a mother of three, like me, and very near my age.  Was she torn during holidays as well… on one hand being overcome by the beauty of life and on the other hand feeling so separate and alone?  Reaching out for aid, her husband brought her to the local hospital one year ago.  Did she fail to receive empathy, love, help?  The very opposite of love is fear.  At some point in the evening of July 8th, 2014, fear took over.  As a result, Jeanetta was not embraced into the aid of this community hospital, and was encouraged (or threatened) to leave, while the police were called.  Then this tiny woman, desperately clinging to her tiny knife, was murdered by our local, publicly paid, police, shot dead in the emergency room parking lot, right in the heart of Sandpoint.

Our picturesque small town parade is contrasted and quite shaded by this tragedy.  Even ideal nostalgia cannot white wash away the murder of Jeanetta Riley.  Similar tragedies are popping off all around the country, and collectively they are becoming a war against the “underdog,” (anybody who is judged to be less).

Hope becomes my only weapon, along with faith in brighter tomorrows.  May Sandpoint be the community that learns lessons and grows upward and forward, actively pursuing unity and compassion.  May law enforcement and hospital employees around the world be filled with loving-kindness and empathy for ALL.  May Sandpoint be a community that doesn’t support bullying.  Sandpoint is only as strong as its weakest link and we are ALL ONE, especially with the “underdog”.

During this summer’s festivities, is it odd that I grieve, hope and pray for change?
Jodi Rawson


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