Being the Light in an Impossible Age
Sarah Kendzior's prescient piece is taking on new meaning.
This piece by Sarah Kendzior has been going around again... I'm not sure it's ever really stopped circulating but recent events have highlighted how relevant it was and is.
Sarah has taken a lot of flak over the past few years for being "gloomy" and "pessimistic". Occasionally people have tried to pit me against her because of my focus on optimism, but I have a lot of respect for her and her expertise and the fact is we agree on most of the larger points. The world doesn't need just one viewpoint. It needs someone laying out the worst-case scenario and it needs people who will find reasons to fight on even in the face of that.
When I read Sarah Kendzior's writing, I don't feel discouraged. It's one of the things that helps me stay fired up by reminding me what we're fighting against and what we're fighting for.
This piece in particular... it can be hard to look at because it was so prophetic. I'm linking to it as homework and saying that you have to read it, but I am saying if you're lost and adrift and looking for a starting point it might be helpful to go back to the beginning. The message of being your own light is timely and important.
I'll quote the end of it here:
My heart breaks for the United States of America. It breaks for those who think they are my enemies as much as it does for my friends. You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.
But most of all, never lose sight of who you are and what you value. If you find yourself doing something that feels questionable or wrong a few months or years from now, find that essay you wrote on who you are and read it. Ask if that version of yourself would have done the same thing.
And if the answer is no? Don’t do it.
The most important message here is that we do have power, the power to encourage each other, the power to do little things... or refuse to do them. We cannot stop the brutality but that doesn't mean we have to accept it. We can refuse to see it as normal. We can remind each other (and others) that it is not necessary.
It is not sufficient to simply do nothing, but not doing the things that others are doing is its own form of resistance. We don't have to except the status quo. We don't have to accept that this is just the way things are now. That's not a solution, but the first step in solving a messy problem is simply carving out a place to stand.
If you're comfortable, feel free to use the comments to mention one thing about yourself that hasn't changed in this impossible age, one thing that the person who went to bed on November 7th, 2016 would still be proud of, or some way in which you have managed to be the light. If you don't feel like sharing, please still think about it.
Remember: If you cannot be brave, be kind... and kindness absolutely can start with yourself. The world has changed so much and will continue changing, and yet we remain.
We're still here, and that's something.
TODAY’S MOOD: “I’m still standing.”
I'm tearing up reading the end of this piece. <3
As a queer/disabled/mentally ill non-binary person: I'm still here, and that's something. I'm still cooking meals for my family and friends, and that's something. I'm still proud of my work and try to keep doing better, and that's something.
And for all of you reading here, folks I know and folks I don't: you're still here, and I'm grateful for you, and that's something.
One way I try to be the light is to use the extra room in my budget to give that money away to folks who need it more than I do. I do this both via charities and via direct giving, on the internet and otherwise.
This isn't actually something I was doing much of prior to November 2016, but it certainly has helped me feel like I'm doing at least something.