All around us is bad news. It’s the easiest thing in the world to go online and find chaos after tragedy after seemingly endless disaster. I can hardly open the News app on my phone anymore without slamming the phone down in a rage. It’s tiresome, this constant worry over the state of things. I’ve spoken with more people this year who have developed anxiety since the last election cycle than who haven’t.
Here’s the deal about bad news, though: It’s not the only news. Is it what we hear the most often? Sure. Is it what advertisers want us to focus on? Absolutely. How else would they convince us we need the hundreds of products and services they’ve designed? If the world is more safe than not, and if people are already of great intrinsic worth and inherent dignity exactly as we are and nothing can take that away, what reason do you and I have to buy that extra life insurance policy or the home alarm system that can also order cloth diapers and play Bruno Mars? As long as media conglomerates and politicians and advertising companies control the narrative, we can be scared into just about anything. As long as we’re scared of the world around us, we can be manipulated into doing and believing just about anything. As long as we’re divided into our camps of “Us” and “Them”, as convinced of our own righteousness as we are of their blatant stupidity, we’re very easy to control. Those who control the narrative control everything.
Friends, it’s time for us to write a new story. It’s time for us to take back the narrative.
Here’s what I love about us. We drive me absolutely bananas, don’t get me wrong. We hurt each other every day and we say awful things on the internet but, somehow, in the midst of all the war and poverty and racial injustice and mass shootings and authoritarianism and rape and moral bankruptcy, we still manage to live.
We still make music in living rooms.
We still watch little ones jump in rain puddles.
We still plant flowers in gardens.
We curl up by fires with books.
We chase fireflies in the summer.
We build new tables out of old wood.
We put on plays and musicals that make absolutely no money but bring great joy.
We make soup for sick friends.
We jump out of airplanes.
We hop in the car and drive through the countryside on a Saturday just to see the leaves change from green to blazing red.
We help our kids with their algebra homework.
We weep to bury our loved ones and laugh over memories of them.
We have hard conversations with people we don’t understand because we love them.
We put quarters in gumball machines because it reminds us of being young.
We take naps on sofas.
We adopt pets from shelters.
We walk through the woods because they’re there.
We pick up trash from the sidewalk because it’s the right thing to do.
We eat stinky cheese and drink sparking wine.
We call our mothers.
We try to remember to write ‘Thank You’ notes, and we always feel better when we do.
We give gifts on birthdays, and on holidays, and, sometimes, just because we want to.
We buy tiny gourds and arrange them on tables for no other reason than they look nice there.
We turn wool into sweaters and blankets and itty bitty socks for newborn babies. We play instruments and turn notes into songs.
We tell our stories.
It takes so little light fill a dark room. People, even when we’re really enthusiastically screwing things up, are capable of generating such bright light.
We are born resilient.
Hate is learned. Fear of the people around us is learned.
I believe we can unlearn those things. I believe the most radical thing we can do is introduce ourselves to one another. I believe the way we make the world a place of light again is not by constantly complaining about the darkness, but by realizing we have had access to the light all along.
It’s us. It's ours to share. The light is not lessened when we share it, but like a match to a candle the light multiplies and spreads.
Thank you for all the ways you are light in the world. Keep opening yourself up. Keep living. You can't possibly know when your light will ignite someone else's. There are so many of us, friends. Keep shining.