Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thinking about L.A. Banks

RT Orlando 2009
I learned today, via Facebook, that Ms. Leslie (L.A.) Banks is not well. This makes my heart heavy. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Banks at Romantic Times in Orlando in 2009 after she'd written the introduction (see below) to Coming Together: At Last (our bestselling anthology to date), and I found her to be incredibly warm & genuinely caring.

When next our paths crossed, it was at RT in Columbus the following year. We talked about her incredible experience of meeting President Obama & introducing him at a rally (video embedded below). Ironic that the subject of that introduction was health care.

There is a fund accepting donations for Leslie's growing medical expenses. (Click here for more information on how to donate.) Please contribute if you have the means. <3

peace & passion,

~ Alessia

March 8, 2010

From Coming Together: At Last, Introduction by L.A. Banks: 

What is the color of the most powerful force in the universe, love? When we look at hope and freedom and change and passion, do these words conjure a race or ethnicity, or are they values and ideals that cross the boundaries of form?
These are the questions I ask myself as I watch the world news. Surely a mother down on her knees wailing at the sight of a collapsed school building in earthquake-ravaged China is no different than the aggrieved father searching desperately for his children in cyclone-stricken Myanmar, who cannot in my mind be distinguished from the traumatized grandmother clutching pictures of her grandchildren to her breast as rescue workers look for survivors in the tornado-ripped heartland of America, any more than those people's cries are different than those of a mother in Darfur lifting her child up to a UN truck begging for mercy… or Baghdad's suicide bomber-embattled children wondering where their parents are after an explosion.
Then is there any difference between the people mentioned above and their losses than that of the inner city mom standing over her shot teenager calling on the Lord for mercy, than there would be for the suburban mother who has just learned that her teen has tragically wrapped their car around a tree on prom night and didn't make it? Images, images… oh, we have all seen them, paused, and held our palms against our hearts when we have. Maybe we've said a silent prayer for those people caught in the grip of tragedy because we can identify with their pain. For that glimmer in time, we don't see differences; we see the feelings and emotions of our fellow man and woman.
If we are really thinking, feeling members of humanity, we are called upon to reach down into our souls to ask fundamental questions. Can one deny that the waters of Katrina or those of the dreadful tsunami refused to delineate between religion, ethnic heritage, age, or gender? Did helpers who scrambled to assist survivors weep less for an orphaned child because of that child's hue? That's not what we saw during and after the 9-11 disaster. We saw people of all races and origins rushing in to help, some even giving their lives for strangers. We saw love sublime, strangers helping strangers, just because it was the right thing to do.
Therefore, it seems that the only logical conclusion one can come to is that love, hope, passion, pain, suffering… all these things are a condition of being human, and are not conditional upon what type of human one happens to be according to labels. A baby crying pulls at one's core, no matter what ethnic group that child was born into by the accident of birth… laughing children have that same effect. Tears shed for a profound loss also move us and break down walls. But if tragedies are so compelling, then let's step back for a moment and peel away the layers to consider one additional level of awareness. If we can understand the cries that follow a bridge collapse in Minnesota, and/or any number of horrific events that have happened, why can't we understand the colorblind nature of love?
It is one of the greatest conundrums in the world, in my opinion—because if people are laid prostrate from a loss of a loved one, doesn't that mean that they had to love whomever the tragedy befell? Doesn't that mean they loved their child just as you would love your child… that they loved their parent or spouse or friend or partner just as you would have loved yours? If we accept that as truth, then how can we regulate love to an artificial parameter like race, when we've just gone around the globe in this small exercise of recalling current events to show that all people have been touched by loss (which means they have also all been touched by love)?
For how can you have loved deeply and not weep when you have lost? It wouldn't matter, then. You'd remain dry-eyed and stoic. But that's just it. We've seen communities and families devastated and the pain of that spread out in roiling waves that effect us, even a half a world away while watching the news. Thus we can only conclude that where the tragedy hit, people were connected to others that loved them, and once the victims were no longer in the world, that bitter reality created indelible suffering for someone who cared that they were alive.
With that as a premise, rather than wait for a disaster or an act of God to create a glaring media frenzy to show just how human we are, why not embrace love for all people when the skies are clear and calm, when the waters have receded, when the shelling has stopped, and while there is laughter in our midst? Love is joy. Love is freedom. Love is hope. It is something that we all deserve and is provided for in abundance in the universe and on our planet, like air, as an ultimate act of God.
I personally believe in love and light… and the indomitable human spirit. I believe in hope and grace and caring, and in heroes and sheroes, maybe that's why I write about them... just as I believe in a Higher Power that levels the playing field, eventually… and I believe in angels. Most of all, perhaps, I believe in the ability of people to change for the better, to open their hearts and to receive the greatest power in the universe (and to use it for good)… and that is the power of love.
Peace and Stay in the Light!

~ L.A. Banks