We had just climbed out of the underworld of Carlsbad Caverns when the cellphone towers finally pinged us back into the network of the living. I started seeing the trickle of information, and misinformation, about an active shooter in El Paso, Texas. First it was in the mall. Then it was between the mall and the Walmart — the busy Walmart.
Generally, I don't feel tied to El Paso, but the more I think about it, the more I know it's not true. It's where my husband and I met up when we dated, meeting at the westside Barnes & Noble, halfway for both of us. We married there, as it was a halfway point for our friends and family in Mexico and New Mexico.
It's where they took my 3-day-old firstborn when her lung collapsed when she was halfway between the womb and home.
When my daughter was born with a helmet of wild pitch-black hair that confirmed all the heartburn I had, my father-in-law whispered to my husband, "Volviste a nacer" — "It's like you were born again." When my still slightly shell-shocked husband told me that leaving the neonatal intensive care unit, I teared up but also thought, "Whelp, them's genetics."
My husband has pitch-black hair, much like many Mexicans. My daughter, whose hair has lightened, was followed by a brother with ash-blond hair, much like his European ancestors. That's genetics, too.
It's those simple genetics that inspire hate.
The shooter went to El Paso to kill families that look like mine. He went to kill families that don't look like his ideal version of life. It's our simple lives and our very existence that consume people like him with hatred. But it is their weakness, and our strength. Their defeat is in our simple continued existence.
Quoting a translation of Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching," we must be the water and persist as the water: "Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid."
The iconic Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns, over six football fields long, starts about 750 feet below the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert. It was created by the slow drip of water through the earth, with each drop helping to peel away layers of intolerant rock.
We are a drop when we denounce hate. We are a drop when we call it white supremacy. We are a drop when we keep repeating that it's not who America needs to be. We are a drop when we walk into a voting booth.
We are many drops, and we will continue to rain on all of their Tiki torch parades.
It took a long time for water to create those caves, and they were hidden in darkness for even longer. But, in time, we recognized the caves for what they are, a national treasure, just like our shared diversity.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at [email protected] To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: cowins at Pixabay