I Just Can't

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I can’t wrap my head around it.

I can’t figure out what to say about it.

I can’t understand why *this* keeps on happening. Again. And again. And again.


I can’t believe that we’re all still standing around saying “gee, that sucks, that thing that’s happening over there.”

I can’t imagine how the NRA and gun lobbyists are going to spin this one—it’s not the guns that are the problem, it’s obviously the radical terrorists.  We have nothing to do with it.

I can’t think of how I would ever begin to explain this part of the world to my children.

I just can’t.

To the victims and their families and friends, and for those still fighting for their lives: I am so, so sorry that this has happened to you. That an evening of joy and connection and community turned in an instant to the most unspeakable horror.

For those who escaped but will be forever haunted by the horror of that evening, I am so, so sorry that this has happened to you.

To those who now feel slightly more afraid to live fully in a world where violence creeps in regularly and unexpectedly, I am so, so sorry that this shadow seems to be clutching an ever-greater hold.

I wrote about this right after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, and as I re-read that post, even I am struggling to find comfort in the words of peace I tried to offer then.

I just can’t.

I’m on the final book in the “Fifth Wave” series, which is all about what is “alien,” or “other” among us… and how quickly and easily everything becomes other. How swiftly trust falls and suspicion and fear dictate our choices. If we’re not careful, we can no longer distinguish what is “other” from what is us.

I can’t figure out what to do or what to say, but I am clear on this: We need to stop the “other” from creeping in. I just can’t figure out right now exactly how.

And I can’t leave you with a question, what question could I think of but "Why? Just... why?"  So, only a request: please take a moment in silence to honor those immediately impacted by this horrific tragedy.

Please also take a moment to consider any way that you might be allowing the “other” to creep in, and get space and perspective to consider whether that is really what you want to believe and feel. And if you realize that it's not, that you want to change, or to even consider another perspective, start now. Because each of us looking at our own feeling of "other" on our own might not seem like it makes that much of a difference... but it adds up to everything, in the end. 

I just can’t see how we’re going to make it through if you don’t.  






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“I Just Can’t”, The Leadership Program, 2016


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.