I know I should be writing about wine right now.
But I can’t.
I’m writing this blog post on the heels of a tumultuous weekend in the US. Two mass shootings, taking place just hours apart, have completely shaken me to my core. Unfortunately, these gravely horrific acts are nothing new back home, as they have become commonplace in public spaces in the US. My heart is with those suffering in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. To the families and friends of the victims, I can not even begin to imagine the heartache you are feeling.
There seems to be no safe place in the US anymore. Concerts, shops, malls, parks, schools, churches, synagogues, mosques. Shootings are happening everywhere, practically everyday, by angry, disturbed, young white men. These men lack compassion, empathy and humanity. They feel complete hopelessness in their lives and have a xenophobic fear of foreigners and people of color. They are dangerous and power hungry. They have easy access to assault rifles that really have no place in society, other than in the hands of the military or law enforcement.
The result of the killer’s fear and lack of control? Innocent people: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons, are dead. And here are the politicians, pointing fingers instead of solving the problems that are driving our country to the brink of civil destruction.
Everyday, I think about my family, my nephews, my friends, who go about their day, worried about school, work, traffic or dinner plans.
I worry for my sister and her husband, who are raising two rambunctious young boys, and the anxiety they must have with each school drop off, each day care pick up.
I worry for my friends, who are doing their best to raise their children in a peaceful, loving environment. At any moment this horrific, gruesome act can happen to them, without warning. This is how I have spent the past few days. Utterly grieving and completely fearful.
I have not become numb to these shootings. Each time I hear about another attack, I shudder, thinking about the victims. How they woke up in the morning, what they ate for breakfast, how they spent their day. I am filling my day with an endless news cycle to learn more: about the victims, about the safety of the cities, about the sense of helplessness in these communities. I read about the anger and frustration filling the streets of the US right now. Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Parkland, Sutherland Springs Church, Charleston, the list goes on… This has to stop.
Last night, I had a nightmare where I was hiding in a hotel room, due to an active shooter in the building. I only remember bits and pieces, but when I think about this dream, I feel pressure in my stomach and heart. Thankfully, I have never been in this situation before. But this innate fear has now delved into my subconscious, planting itself in my head, and I am desperately trying to claw it out.
I am an expat, and I live in the Czech Republic. Each day, I walk down the streets here in Brno without a fear of being shot. I attend concerts, I go to festivals, I travel, I shop in the main square.
When Czech people ask me if I am anxious to return back home, I have to consider that fear. I hesitate every time I give a response. Of course, I miss my family and friends. But I do not miss the fear of being shot, assaulted or attacked. And for me, that fear of being harmed takes precedence. I hate saying it, and I really hate writing it, but I am glad I can go about my day in Brno without a fear of being shot. Yet in the same regard, I feel like a coward, like I was able to run away and escape that fear. It is an awful disconnect that is taking place in my head, and it is preventing me from focusing on anything other than this fear for my family and friends in the US.
I started this wine blog as a way to catalogue my wine experiences, create community and avoid the divisiveness that unfortunately plague our society. Two people of totally different cultures, backgrounds and religions, can still enjoy the same bottle of wine. I appreciate that wine has a way to bring civility and conversation to the table. It deserves historical recognition, having been shared amongst some of the global adventurers, founding fathers, and pioneers who sailed the seven seas.
This was and still remains the focus of my blog. This is my mission, to show how wine can build community. I wanted to leave politics out of the picture, so others could enjoy a shared moment of serenity with a great bottle of wine. Yet I am mentally stuck. It seems unfair to write about wine during such a devastating time. It seems impractical to write about a luxury commodity while my country is weeping.
I share my thoughts here, not to create a divisive conversation about gun rights or immigration reform, but to simply put myself out here, to let my thoughts drift into cyberspace. To expose my fears, alongside my hopes for a less violent culture.
Last week, I had an idea to start a blog post about party wines. I wanted to create a fun, easygoing blog post about selecting wines for a party, how to serve them, etc. And I may still write it somewhere down the line. But this did not feel like the right time. I had to take a moment in my grief, to share my thoughts with my community back in the United States. I am thinking of you all, especially those families of the victims. I am trying to pick myself back up so forgive me for my lack of wine enthusiasm. It will come back, I just need some time to reflect.
Today, my thoughts are with those suffering. My heart is with those parents agonizing over the safety of their children, with those religious leaders giving sermons in houses of worship, with those employees at those shops and restaurants that were brutally attacked. Although I am not physically present with you, I am mentally there with you, today and always. And, be sure that I will send in my absentee votes in the upcoming elections.