On Sunday, my 14 year-old brother was recognized for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. In the ceremony that followed, clumps of old friends nipped in to offer a well done, or a hug from behind a forkful of pineapple-lined cake.
Out of the mesh of faces (and crumbs), I was glad to sit and talk with the mother of one of my brother’s chums. For a bit, we laughed about family things: how khaki clad Chris has nearly bested me in height, and her youngest son’s still birdlike appetite.
Yet, when conversation curled to my journalism major, the smile was unmapped from her mouth. It stayed like that long enough for her to say, “I hate reading the news.”
It wasn’t that she had any aversion to being well-informed; it was only that sometimes, she wasn’t sure where to store information that disrupted her mind. As a mother, she still reels from the image of a 3-year-old pressed against a Turkish beach last year. The little boys charted in countries she hasn’t been to might have been her own.
I understood what she meant, and what she went on to explain. Stories can affect us. They can pin and crush. Sometimes, I’m tempted to repeat her statement.
Yet, it’s the response that these stories yank out of us that make me certain of how important it is to share them.
A lack of awareness, for the sake of sparing oneself the pain of knowing evil is out there, doesn’t fit us to make any swipes against it. Horrible things ought not to leave us voiceless—and they are not diminished by closed eyes.
Unwrapping words to speak and hear of hard things might be painful, when twisting fingers against a white tablecloth seems preferable. Yet, it is the thing that counts when others aren’t in the same celebrations I know, without good news.
Follow Kaitlin Ruiz on Twitter: @kaitlinruiz95