In each bruising tragedy: missing and murdered indigenous women, the thirst for drinkable water, the displacement of the Rohingya, in those attacks in Edmonton and now, in Las Vegas, I pause to give names to people. I sink into my heart to make spaces in the crowd so it is no longer a crowd but countless individuals that must be counted, that do have a name. Of course this is an impossible task but one, I believe, must be taken up, over and over again, stitches unraveled and knit up again. We must learn one another’s names.
Sometimes in the almost unbearable counting, I think of this poem Pedagogy of Conflict by Padraig Ó Tuama of the Corrymeela Community in Ireland. Here is it’s beginning.
“When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five:
But these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count
Because each time is the first time that that life has been taken. [ . . . ]”