The Light Isn’t Dead.

I’m a dark person.

I am. I cover it with humor and smartass pithy comments, but it’s often hard for me to see the light in the world. The kindness. The compassion. The good.

I live in one of the most progressive states in what used to be one of the more progressive countries on the planet. In the last month I’ve watched rights for women whittled away state by state as fascists and religious extremists take more and more control of the country I live in, as evil people attempt to control women’s sexuality and freedom under the guise of their belief.

For the past few years I’ve watched evil people attempt to eradicate anyone brown, or black, or red, or  poor (any heritage other than their own pasty, wealthy WASPs, really) by any means possible.

As if this country wasn’t built on the backs of anyone NOT WASPy. As if they have some right to absolute rule, an unspoken tyrant oligarchy with a despot king at the helm, and willful ignorance celebrates it all.  Current leadership here has emboldened hate.

Yep, I’m pulling out the evil card, because that level of selfishness and disregard for other humans in favor of money and power is an infection that spreads like a damn virus of hate, and I find perpetuating hate pretty fucking evil. Detention camps in which the very children they insist they’re saving with anti-woman reproductive care bills die, hateful rhetoric, dehumanizing speeches comparing human beings to animals and insects, Neo-Nazi marches, refusing sanctuary to war refugees…anything they can think of that stays under the international criminal court’s radar.

It’s exhausting and depressing. The weight of watching this happen and feeling so utterly helpless to create any real change can get utterly overwhelming. I mean, I understand and agree with the quote “all evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing” (as an aside, the etymology of that phrase is amazing, and worth looking up), but what does that mean in a practical sense? What can one person do against a mob? What possible difference can I make, or am I just stuck watching this happen, wringing my hands and standing by (or in this case, writing by)?

The historian in me recognizes this dystopian, awful period is a relatively predictable societal swing that will come back eventually, but that’s neither comforting nor helpful. The swing away from respecting people as fellow human beings, as equals who can and should run their own lives, is horrifying. It’s not too surprising:humans throughout history have consistently been horrifying to each other. We haven’t learned much in our thousands of years on this spaceball about how to treat our own species. But we’ve also been incredibly, inspiringly, kind to each other. The dichotomy of humanity is full of extremes, and we are living through a period that could get so unimaginably worse, but it could also be turned.

There is still light.

There is always still light to be found, if you look for it. It’s possible for a time we’ll need to celebrate small victories to encourage compassion and kindness. I am a dark person. I have to sometimes look very hard for the light when things seem extra terrible to me, a state I can be in by the nasty tricks of depression in my mind just as much as news and social media. So here are some examples of light I found today just while writing this post over lunch. 

  • Dr. Jen Gunter standing up unfailingly and unwaveringly for proper OBGYN care, and furiously, tenaciously correcting the lies spread about women and women’s bodies. 
  • Men and women publicly standing up together to say enough: publicly discussing things that were hidden in shadows for ages, advocating for POC and for refugee and immigrant rights.  
  • Spring arriving in Minnesota after a horridly cold winter, as Nature wakes up and comforts with warm sun and fresh breezes. It is a season of hope and possibility, of new growth and increasing light here, and that does help. 
  • My nephew sharing hugs with his sister and brothers because he’s the most empathetic little boy I’ve ever met, and I adore him for having such consideration for others at six years old when so many in middle age have none. 
  • I’ve seen Mr. Rogers’ “Look for the helpers in an emergency” quote a lot lately, which tells me others are also looking for some good to hold onto. That means no matter how alone we might feel, we are NOT. 

There are things in this world worth fighting for, but right now it may take a little work to find a way to see the slivers of light that are meaningful to you, and stand up for them. “Be the change you want to see in the world” isn’t a silly cliche: we are responsible for our reactions to the universe and creating/maintaining our environment. No one person can be responsible for fixing the whole of their world, but we can be in charge of the way we help: that means cleaning up where we can. Stand up for humanity. Stand up for your environment, for your universe, even in the smallest ways, because that shit adds up and is seen. Stand up for love: no matter what religion you claim to participate in, they all emphasize loving and respecting other humans, even those who are different from you.

And when the world seems to have forgotten that, be the light by remembering and demonstrating it.

When I can’t see the light for myself, I can sure as hell hope someone else can see it through my actions. There is light to counter the darkness: you can find it.

If you can’t find it, you can MAKE it. 

There is still good. There is still hope. We are still here.

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