I Won’t Bow Down to the Despair in This World.


“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” ~ Joanna Macy

I know.

What in the world can we do?

We are neither helpless, nor handless, but we do have these hearts, these big beauty-full hearts.

I ache for all mothers, but especially the mothers of boys of color, for whom sending them outside to play is an act of defiance. We will not back away. But if children are shot down, then what do we do?

We raise our voices. It is the only and best thing I know how to do. We feel the ache of the world, we hear a shot and begin praying, we hear a baby’s cry and light a candle, we make choices that will positively affect the outcome of our children’s lives, and we do not know, ever, if it will make a difference, but we cannot back down.

We never return to silence.

We sing.

We pray.

We offer this hungry world all of the beauty that we know with our hands, from the skin inside our prayers for people we do not know, from whom we cannot separate. We are the mothers of each of the men shot this summer.

We are the mothers of black men driving in cars, who when stopped by other men in police cars, hurtle towards an outcome that is hard to fathom. May there be meaningful discussion and right action taken to protect human lives.

We are the mothers of the men and women who go out, every single day, to keep peace. May they each find — and live in — peace.

We are the mothers of the children who have lost a parent or relative to useless gun violence, in Orlando, in Baton Rouge, in Sandy Hook. We are the mothers of every single life lost because of gun violence, the shooters and the shot, each one sprang to life and was raised by someone who fed and nourished. May each life today feel valued and cherished, in every necessary way. Our prayers are that big, and I know that Spirit is even bigger.

We are the mothers of the children poisoned by drinking water in Flint, Michigan, where the powers-that-be, sons and daughters of other mothers, made decisions and now lay blame that is nearly impossible to reason. May those children find ease and fresh water at the ready.

We are the mothers of every single un-housed soul in the Middle East, floating on less-than-seaworthy vessels towards a new frontier. May they find welcome, may they find shelter, and may they find work. May we each be the welcome they seek.

We are the mothers of children who will live with the results of the actions you and I take today, right now, in this moment. Will you offer the world the beauty that you can? Or will you pass your time waiting for someone else to be the change we want to see in the world?

I cannot deny despair. But I will not bow down to it.

“I’ve seen enough change in my lifetime to know that despair is not only self-defeating, it is unrealistic.” ~ Susan Griffin

I urge you to find, engage and use your voice to offer the world what it needs, which is the nourishment and love from your open heart, expressing the beauty that you know, right now. Take that writing workshop, start that community gathering, stop mulling and take one small action that lets you feel more solution than despair.

Because you are all that. We all are.


SuziBanksBaumSuzi Banks Baum is an artist, actress, writer, teacher, community organizer, and mom. She’s passionate about helping women find their creative voice and live focused, joy-filled lives. Suzi inspires hundreds of women every year to live their lives from the space of creative spirit and to value their contributions to the world and one another through her Mapping Motherhood course, taught throughout the United States, her blog, her Sacred Refuge programs and her Powder Keg Writing Workshops. You can find her work on TheMid, Literary Mama, MotherWriterMentor and her blog.


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