The publish date on this article describing this video is September 2017. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it until now, August 2019. It was a bad idea.
I made it 45 seconds in, about 12–15 seconds of real content, and I choked and had to stop.
The video is bodycam footage of an Arizona police officer detaining a young teen for (as far as I can tell) nothing illegal. He turns the kid around to handcuff the boy and the kid’s anguished cry hit me right in the gut. This is what it means to know that a piece of media requires a trigger warning. That’s how this makes me feel – such a sharp, suffocating feeling, like an explosion going off right next to me, slamming every one of my emotions to the side, past the edges of my body, and then they snap back after I hit pause, like my brain recoiling from a concussion, smashing around inside my skull.
Typing this post gives me a smidge of distance so I can get the words out about how terrified this makes me that my son, doing nothing wrong, will feel the fear that that poor kid did. It’s the kind of feeling that I can’t even dig into because it’s so overwhelming. I am one of the folks who says that, “Hope is not a strategy” in business contexts on a regular basis. But I’m terrified of this, and I am afraid that cozying up to the fear to understand it would just make me angry, when there’s no one to be angry with.
I don’t know how I’ll ever look at even a few more seconds of this. It is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. My own near-death experience was like water off a duck; the thought of my son’s anguish and fear could only be surpassed by its reality.
Goodbye, cruel world, I’m leaving you today
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Goodbye, all you people, there’s nothing you can say
To make me change my mind, goodbye
*Also: this isn’t a suicide note. As his namesake wrote, you’ve got to “rage against the dying of the light.” And that’s what life is. The fact that there’s goodness in the space between the infinite blackness is to be accepted with gratitude, not cursed for not being bigger or longer or brighter.