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All These Emotions
Ours is not an age of tranquility. Far from it.
Myriad crises ricochet across our newsfeeds and disturb our conscience. Some are immediate and others endemic. Wherever we seem to turn, there are pain, danger, and disorientation.
Edifices we once turned to for stability — our democratic governance, a largely peaceful world order, basic notions of truth — are under great strain, to the point of buckling. Will they ultimately crumble? And if they do, what waves of chaos and heartbreak will they unleash?
To tally all that is wrong is to produce a catalog of woe debilitating in its breadth, depth, and scope. In addition to all that ails us in the broader world, many of you undoubtedly can add personal afflictions and ones that strike your family and friends. These include struggles of health, financial stability, loneliness, and hopelessness.
Can we find any solace in the fact that most eras of any meaningful duration encompass injustices and instability? Can we recognize that even as we face immense challenges, we have made great strides toward addressing calamities our ancestors took as inevitable — such as childhood diseases (thank you, vaccines), workplace safety (thank you, labor movement), and racial justice (thank you, Civil Rights Movement)? There remains much work to be done, and there has been recent backsliding, but on the whole, the world is better than it was.
It is important to try to see our present time in a wider arc of history. It can remind us that moments of peril do get resolved. But we also can see that the cost of resolution can be high and measured in human suffering.
One hope in creating this Steady community is that we can come together and share our fears and pain, that we can say, “This is not okay” and “We are angry and hurting.” In processing the news, all too often the facts printed on the page become blurred by the tears in our eyes. We shake our heads in exasperation at the capacity of our species to be heartless and to do evil. We breathe deeply, aching for people in a distant place we will never visit but whom we recognize because of our common bonds as humans.
All these emotions are valid, natural, and warranted. They spring from the same well that can also provide a salve for our fervid thoughts. We hurt because we care and because we desperately want a world that hurts less. While much of what is taking place is beyond our control, that doesn’t mean we are helpless.
In times of struggle, action provides a path forward. Helping others. Fighting for democracy. Creating communities of caring. Even just calling a friend who could use a check-in.
This is a time of swirling emotions. They churn within us. They must be recognized and respected. But we should also remember that we are not alone with these fears and sadnesses. And many in this world feel them far more acutely. It is incumbent on us as fellow human beings to find a way to keep pushing forward. To lift each other up. To say, “This is wrong,” and then turn that into a rallying cry for change.
It is remarkable to remember how short the history of the United States really is. Two hundred forty-seven years may seem like a lot until you realize that’s just about three lifetimes of 80 years. And for some of us, 80 years is already in the rearview mirror. Think about what this nation was like at its founding and what it is now.
We are in a land that embraces and adapts to change, and we are a nation of change-makers. We do not intend to minimize the struggles we face. But we can find ways and leaders to do the hard work of progress for the betterment of humanity.
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