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Illustration by Gabrielle Conlon

Trigger Warnings: Paris attacks, Orlando shooting

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws are laid out one by one, a wonderful part of the mess that we’ve made…

The acoustic version of this song, Bastille’s “Flaws”, comes to me live from Paris. It softly fills my ears, silk in audible form. I look out the window to see a clear summer sky, one my father might call race blue. It’s another hot, completely still day in the Southern United States, and in the soupy heat, I reflect.

I remember, listening as Bastille’s frontman Dan talks about the hole in his soul, when I first heard about the Paris attacks. It was in the middle of a conference, a mock United Nations conference nonetheless, and while we should have been debating about child trafficking in India, all our minds were turned to the fact that tonight, the City of Lights stood as dark and still as the lake water I sit beside to ponder and listen to my music. I remember the world rushing to make statements, rushing for revenge, and I think now that instead of revenge, maybe if we had remembered that fighting fire with fire doesn’t work, maybe this day would be different. After all, this attack was one of revenge, and I am in no mood to fight a petty war, even against such militant haters.

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve, and I have always buried them deep beneath the ground, Dan sings on. I’ve always thought that line as odd because even if you bury flaws, they don’t disappear. They just keep festering, getting all gross underneath the dirt, then one day an ugly weed grows from your flaws, a weed that won’t be easily killed, and what will you do then?

The flaws we buried when Paris mourned turn to weeds before my eyes.

Dig them up – let’s finish what we started, Dan begs, but it is too late.

My news feed is full before I know it, full of pride flags and lists of names and pretty soon I piece it altogether. That Parisian weed was as deadly as the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. We swore we wouldn’t allow such death, not in the wake of 9/11, not in the wake of Paris, but here we are. Burying, what, forty-nine, fifty people? People with lovers and lives, people that will never be regulars at coffee shops again. Chills go through me, and it’s 90+ degrees on the water today.

Water hits my leg, and it is as hot as tears. Not just due to death, but also to everyone else’s reactions. A horrible witch hunt for Muslims, a parade of homophobia, a battle over gun control, all this absolute fire in the face of Death himself. The hatred acts as rain on that weed from Paris, and I feel that I am one of few who sees it that way in this moment, still as one of those victims’ graves, though logic tells me surely not.

But I can’t help but feel it. I am surrounded by flaws, flaws in the live music, flaws on the lake surface, flaws in friends’ and family’s logic, flaws in the system, flaws in the world, all flaws that, when the sky clears again, will be buried alongside Paris’ weed to become the most hideous garden humanity will ever see. It rains harder now, I’m drowning in flaws and rain over the weeds they became.

These flaws made all these people who they are, I think now, the rain letting up. Dan reminds me that indeed we need them to be who we are, without them we’d be doomed. Though problematic, they give us room to grow. And growth is fun. It is what makes humanity humanity. I love my world, love it to death despite everything.

But in the end, I hear a wicked clap of thunder. We cannot afford to simply carry that attitude forever, as Dan ominously, but beautifully, reminds me:

We pick ourselves undone.