Where Shannon is is where I want to be.
It is where we must all be now that we can see clearly where we have been all this time.
For me it is the time since I was 10 and heard the war was over. That was a time of hope in our world, and it was that because my country had made the noble sacrifices of so many for so long to right the wrongs in a world filled elsewhere with fascism and racism. I was told this. My country was this powerful and sole commander of a world that then lay all before us filled with the promise that our dominion would surely bring.
Seventy years have now gone by. Seventy years of war and other mass murder. Seventy years of spreading poverty and the mayhem of our explosions dropping from the sky, splitting arms and legs from bodies, spitting them around to bloody the shattered walls of homes like our own, leaving now a child. now a crippled widow behind.
Homeless or terrified, all, they seek such refuge as they can find.
Shannon’s friend Denise found it at the San Bernadino Christmas party, huddled with him under a table and behind a chair while two people enraged by what they saw as a terrible injustice inflicted on those they identified with abroad poured out their rage at the Christmas party through deadly weapons of war they held in their hands. She found it in his enfolding arms — “I’ve got you,” he said. This time it worked. It doesn’t always.
But for you and me, as for Shannon, it always works to choose the path of love, the peaceful nonresistance taught by teachers like Buddha, Jesus, Tolstoy, Ghandi and King.
Today and always, Shannon Johnson is on their path.
That’s where I want to be as well.
Wednesday morning at 10:55 a.m. we were seated next to each other at a table, joking about how we thought the large clock on the wall might be broken because time seemed to be moving so slowly.
I would have never guessed that only 5 minutes later, we would be huddled next to each other under the same table, using a fallen chair as a shield from over 60 rounds of bullets being fired across the room.
While I cannot recall every single second that played out that morning, I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair.
And amidst all the chaos, I’ll always remember him saying these three words, “I got you.”
I believe I am still here today because of this amazing man. This amazing, selfless man who always brought a smile to everyone’s face in the office with his lively stories about his hometown back in Georgia.
This is Shannon Johnson, who will be deeply missed by all. This is Shannon Johnson. My friend, my hero.
Tribute by Denise Peraza. Source. A photo of Shannon and another friend, Mandy Pifer:
This is how I thought it would be at 10 years old. This is how it’s supposed to be.
On Martin Luther King Day in 2016, January 18th, Amy Goodman ran a newly discovered audio recording of an MLKjr speech in London on December 7, 1964 just before he received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Link to the transcript with links to the audio as well.
It bears listening to all the way through. He reviews the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, including summaries of the pro and con arguments of his day in incisive and persuasive language. He also reflects on and argues for the path of peaceful nonresistance in powerful terms that I find persuasive. And there is more.