You might ask, what has Elvis got to do with gun violence? Well, Elvis said it himself, “It’s got everything to do with us”, in Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar nominated biopic about the King of Rock and Roll. Sparks of stardom soar when Elvis proclaims to his future agent, the Colonel, that he’s “ready to fly”. The world is on fire as this hunk of burning love from Memphis, Tennessee pours out his heart and soul with a unique vocal style, gyrations and ballads of love.
Sexual and social unrest explodes like a one-two punch at the film’s turning point with the news of Kennedy and King’s assassinations. Time stands still as Walter Chronkite speaks…”Senator Kennedy has been shot…Martin Luther King has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee…” You can see it in this masterful preview! Colonel Tom Parker responds dryly, “Tragedy! But it has nothing to do with us.” and this is when Elvis replies, “It has everything to do with us.” As I watch I feel the trigger click inside, my gut clenches, and I flash on the news of the mass shooting, only hours before in Highland Park, Illinois during the 4th of July parade, where 7 people died, and 46 others were wounded by gunfire or injured in the ensuing panic.
Mass shootings are at an all time high, but this one was already heavy on my heart for I grew up in Deerfield, Illinois, the town next door, during my junior high and teen years. I still have family who live there, so the parallels of the turbulent times of the 60’s resurfacing over the last few years, has felt very close to home. In the original broadcast on April 4th,1968, Chronkite calls Dr. King the apostle of non-violence in the civil rights movement. If King was a disciple to a greater power, Elvis could be seen as another sent a mission to express what many of us wanted to say or feel in our own lives, but couldn’t. Elvis himself reveals that a reverend once told him “…when things are too dangerous to say, sing!.” And sing he did.
Healing the aftermath of trauma with an Emotional Support Dog in Highland Park, IL
MASS SHOOTINGS + GUN SALES
It would be easy to spiral down the rabbit hole of no return if we focused on the distressing statistics of our species’ senseless destruction of life on this planet. My hope now is that if we are to ever truly experience unity as a collective, the most powerful thing we can do is hold the frequency of love and wake up to our true nature and purpose, which is to create. This is what my coaching work is all about; reclaiming the truth that you are predominant creator in your life.
WE KILL EACH OTHER BECAUSE WE DO NOT KNOW WHO WE REALLY ARE Going back to the film, it feels profoundly fitting that the writer/director, Luhrmann, has branded his projects with the statement, A Life Lived in Fear, is a Life Half Lived. Elvis has lived for us all as a man who faced many fears but also played full out with his creative expression. The way I see it, we have come full circle to the having everything to do with us. Us being co-creators of it all. In these turbulent times, this is where the rubber meets the road and we must accept that we are creating all of this for some greater purpose and for the benefit of all. The light and the dark.
What has helped me sit with this truth from a deeper light of compassion for others and myself, is the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh, who said, “We kill each other because we do not know who we really are.” Lovingly known by his students as Thay, he was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk exiled from his country for opposing the war in 1966 and became a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist. His profound body of work encourages us to re-imagine an entirely new way of living and doing things, and to never be afraid to dream. I know Elvis had a dream as did Martin Luther King and the Kennedys. I hope these words touch your fears with the power to dream of a world awakened to the love that you truly are. Aho!