Listening To Better Angels

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it sows perhaps the greater.” – J.R.R Tolkien (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

It’s hard for me to look on the positive side of life. It’s hard for me to see the good when everything is so bad. My mind goes to the worst-case scenario, and it won’t even entertain the best case because, with my luck, it will be a hung jury. Finding a source of light in the darkness? Seeing wonder and joy in the awful and cruel? It’s not my default setting but I’m praying for better angels.

There are people in my life who always see the positives in every situation. I have a friend who’ll spin a plate full worms into a bowl full of lucky charms. It’s a gift! I don’t know how she does it. I won’t tell you the nickname she acquired because she would kill me but the theme song is killer. Yes, we wrote her a theme song because her ability to find the happy in the worst situation is a superpower. If you have a superpower then you need a theme song. Those are the rules. I didn’t just make that up. Don’t fact check me.

We are polar opposites and how we became friends is a mystery but I don’t want to think about it too hard. Why ruin the magic? 

Seeing the best when the worst is out in full force? I don’t know how you do it! You wondrous soul who will find a tiny sliver of good in a forest of horrible. You are incredible and mystical. A unicorn dancing unabashedly through a lions den. Dance wonderful creature, dance. Seriously, dance a little faster because those lions look hungry. Dance damn it!

The world is full of lions with grumbling tummies. Every one of them wants to nibble on a piece of us and…Wow, that’s dark. I’m in a dark mood. Do I hide it well? Some day’s but not today. I can’t shake this mood. I’ve tried jumping up and down but it won’t break free. I’m tired. My head hurts. I want to crawl into bed and go to sleep. If I didn’t have to write this then, yeah, I’d be under the covers with some music blaring to shut out the world.

I want to sell everything I own and move to some small island. Dig a hole into the ground and build a hobbit-sized home in the side of a mountain. Hideaway from the world until the world calms itself down and finds a way to be kind. Yeah, I’ll be there for a very long time. Curled up inside my hole of a house with nothing but a fire and pot of tea to keep me warm.

Why is it so hard for us to be kind to each other? I know I talk about kindness a lot, and I don’t see myself stopping. I’ll keep bringing it up because kindness seems to be a dying art. Cruelty is so easy! Especially when we aim it at someone who’s so openly different. It’s a chep shot! Instead of praising their uniqueness we attack their inability, or unwillingness, to conform with our idea of normal.

As children, we’re told to be ourselves but when who we are isn’t acceptable? “The world is indeed full of peril.”

In Canada, there are protests in support of indigenous peoples whose land is being taken for a pipeline. The politics of this situation is messy. The environmental, economic, and political complexities far exceed this blog. I won’t wade into that quagmire because I’m ill-equipped to give an unbiased opinion. But I do have an opinion about the grief caused by our darkest demons.

The pain felt by people who are treated like unwanted guests in their own home? The prejudices, the white privilege, and the agony we still cause? That’s very real and to see good people, once again, held at gunpoint while their homes are ravished is gut-wrenching. There’s a sense of helplessness and hopelessness that has captured our nations attention. It’s forcing us to face our past and decide what future we want for all involved.

For those of us in the position of privilege, it can be uncomfortable to face our past, and it can be difficult to move towards an uncertain future. The mere mention of white privilage get’s backs up against the wall and fists start to clench. Yes it’s uncomfortable but it could be worse. We could be the ones suffering but we aren’t and we need to be uncomfortable with that. We need to be uncomfortable with the thought that anyone in our country, around the world, is suffer right now. We need to ask the big questions and make big changes.

What does it mean for us a country? What does it mean for us, the privileged few? Well, with any luck it will mean a balanced, peaceful, society where equality is a way of life and not just a campaign slogan.

Oh but it’s long overdue! Like all colonial nations, our history is one of oppression and violent suppression. Our voices have been raised for too long, and it’s time for us to be silent. It’s time for us to be still, see the pain we’re causing, and listen to voices of those who have been silenced for too long. I don’t know if that will stop the pain, it won’t erase the past, but maybe we can find a way to heal? Will it help? Does it make a difference? Will it bring about change?

There are still the voices of opposition. Voices regurgitating the same, tired, stereotypes that were born out of racism and racial superiority. The deniers and outliers that yell loud enough to drown out the cries of the wounded and the dying. They choose blindness over kindness and brush away the “snowflakes.” They choose to embrace the darkness because there’s comfort in the shadows. There’s a false sense of safety in the known darkness.

It’s a feeling I can relate too because, as I said, my natural inclination is to see the negatives before I consider the positives. I live closer to the darkness than I care to admit. I sit in the shadows and wallow. I look for the worst instead of trying to find the righteous because darkness is easier. Lighting a fire takes work, and I’m just so tired.

Thank God for good people who live in the light because they offer us a counterbalance. Without those lucky charms, I think I’d become someone I don’t like. Worse, I’d become someone I don’t respect. These better angels, crying for change, make us better people. They help us become the people we’re meant to be. Good, kind, generous, souls who light a candle for someone who’s struggling. 

In a darkening world, all we can do is hold a candle and offer a little light to those around us. They can accept or decline but at least we tried. Our voices may be a whisper but to those of us crawling forwards? It’s a beacon of hope in a world full of peril.

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