In Our Darkest Hour…

…do we turn away from darkness and toward the light?

The past year has been full of dark times for me and people in my life. And it seems the same for many who I don’t know. But then, there are always dark times for somebody somewhere, yes? What is in question is not the darkness itself, but how we choose to respond to it.

There have been many singular moments in this past year when I considered the question, have I hit bottom yet? Though I was usually somewhat out of my head in such moments of quandary, I would often marvel at the question. On the one hand it seemed strange to me that I would have wanted to have sunk to the lowest of my lows. And then I would realize that I was likely posing the question under the assumption that if I had indeed hit bottom, I’d surely begin my ascent sometime soon.

We have just narrowly missed another apocalypse, suffered a national tragedy (at least one that I’m aware of, that is), and right here in our little slice of the globe, mother nature celebrated the winter solstice with the sort of weather that made us want to retreat indoors and abandon our outdoor plans for celebration. These three things came together last night for me as I thought about how I could mark this natural turning point.

A thought on the apocalypse that a friend shared with me: perhaps it is simply the end of the world as we know it. In the wake of the violent events in Connecticut last week, I think that we are past due for a collective adjustment to our social values. So I like the idea of some new reality. I’m thinking of the sort of reality where we are careful to let absolutely NO ONE slip through a single crack.

Clearly this recent event has sparked all sorts of thought and discussion. I read one blog post that got me thinking. Here are my thoughts, in short format:

We humans are capable of really awful things in the same way that we are capable of really amazing wonderful things.

When these things happen, we have a wide variety of responses.

I am (always) interested in a response that is simultaneously grounded in deep thought and is forward looking. I am looking to make improvements where ever possible and it seems that in order to do that, the real problem must be addressed.

Violence is widespread on this planet of ours. How we respond to the violence depends on how we feel about the victims. Race matters. Cultural and geographical proximity matter.

To me there is always one common denominator in these questions: humans causing harm or death to other humans. And yet, I feel rather alone in this emphasis. People want to talk about details, they don’t seem to want to address the basic question: how do we let this sort of thing happen. Ever?

I believe that we have the power to stop violence. I believe that when we value life, we will do that. I believe that when we value life above all else we will make choices that are different from the kind of ones that lead to tragic events anywhere.

Humans causing harm to other humans where ever it occurs is a result of negligence on all our parts.

(Which brought to mind a quotation that I see while driving around these parts, and a discovery of a cool blog. I usually feel a pang of remorse when I consider these words because I feel that I ought to be doing more: To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it”Martin Luther King, Jr.)

And now, at least in this moment, I feel that I have an answer to those pangs that I’ve so often experienced as I realize what little thing can we each do to shift our collective reality. I think kindness is the key. Kindness in all ways, toward all people, even in moments of distress or upset. Kindness is always the best option. But before kindness, we must try to really see each other, to bear witness to the sufferings and successes of our fellow humans. And in order to do this for others, we must first do it for ourselves.

This is the sort of thing that we can each begin immediately. And when we lapse, we can resume at any point in time. It can be that simple, I believe. Our real power is far more subtle than political speeches or even the most violent act.

(Which brought to mind another of my favorite quotations: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” – Martin Luther King Jr.)

And so we have made the turn. Definitely in material terms, perhaps in spiritual terms as well. Welcome light. Welcome love. Welcome hope.


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