A Brief Thought for a Friday Night
A brief thought for a Friday night — a Friday I fear is fearful for many.
There is a lot about this world that is unsettling, disorienting, and depressing. There is a lot of news that adds up to a stark realization that this is a moment of great peril. We see forces of destruction in ascendance — economic, environmental, cultural, authoritarian, martial.
Historical parallels spur further alarm. Moments of instability can propel and inflame the worst of human instincts and behavior. Stoking fear is a potent tool for despots. When people worry about their own health, safety, and well-being, empathy for others can be framed as a luxury no longer affordable. Divisions harden. Hate takes root. Unity is undercut.
I have lived long enough and through enough momentous events hopefully to bring some context to the present. I offer no particular wisdom other than that born from longevity. But over time, we can hopefully put the concerns of the present into a broader perspective. Upon this foundation we can build a notion of steady.
We should not bury our heads in the sand about the very real dangers we face. It is a prescription only for delaying an inevitable reckoning. The world is on edge, people are suffering, our own democracy is under threat — primarily from within our own ranks.
And yet, I want to say over and over again this evening, “and yet, and yet, and yet,” I am not pessimistic. I would even go so far as to say I am optimistic. I know we run the risk of being pollyannaish, but I have lived through times when hope seemed far dimmer than I feel it is today.
I find hope in a rallying movement for American democracy.
I find hope in the bravery of Ukraine.
I find hope in younger generations who are more concerned about the planet and less concerned about each other’s differences.
I find hope in science.
I find hope in the general goodness I find in most people.
I find hope in how often moments of unease resolve better than expected.
I find hope in all of you, this Steady community, with your kindness and thoughtfulness.
I find hope in those determined not to let darkness prevail, or lawlessness, or hate.
I find hope in actions big and small that I witness where people try to lessen the burdens of others.
Despair can be infectious. But so can hope. Hope should always be tempered by reality, but it also should not be underestimated.
There are many reckonings that are coming — the tides of the economy, elections, war. We have people suffering from natural disasters, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, and elsewhere. We have our endemic problems, around race, income disparity, the climate crisis, and many others. The tally of what is wrong is daunting. We often don’t spend equal energy tallying what is right.
On this Friday evening, amidst the pain and the uncertainty, let us also hold onto the reality that there is a lot we can do to make things better — especially if we lean on each other and work together.
I hope you all have a good weekend.
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