Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Dark Night

The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost and all seems darkness, then comes new life and all that is needed.

- Joseph Campbell

* * *

We are in the dark night as a nation. We have reached the same nadir as Reconstruction. The forces of racism, misogyny, homophobia and violence have taken a majority of those who voted. What comes next is terrifying if you believe in a liberal democracy, if you care about a warming planet, if you are trying to raise children to be kinder than you were. Make no mistake, millions are celebrating the return to white, male hegemony. The flirtation with a post-racial America is long dead. It wasn't simply rural whites, it was across the board: educated or not. It was fear made manifest: fear they no longer mattered if a black life mattered, fear of global others who took their jobs, fear that the mythology they were born into no longer fit the world. It no longer fits the world, but they could not change, so they sought to destroy what had changed around them, passed them by.

This has nothing to do with free trade or immigration or any of the excuses made to paper over the unalterable truth: the long dominance of white males over national life is coming to an end and they don't know what to do except re-trench, destroy and lash out at the change that will consume them anyway. They are fucked not because same sex couple can marry, but because they have lost the ability to change, to evolve, and emerge as something other than what they were born into.

I do not pity then. I loathe them for what they have done. This action contains the potential not simply to destroy American ideals of civic responsibility and equality before the law, it threatens the planet. The men who surround the next President are vile, corrupt, angry, lecherous men. I do not overstate the matter when I say, we may not survive.

I loathe the stupidity.
I loathe the sense of spoiled entitlement.
I loathe the smug satisfaction of promises to upend our laws into vehicles of vengeance.
I loathe the willful blindness to what can happen next.

These are no longer ordinary times with ordinary political disagreements. We now live in a authoritarian state that must be resisted.

* * *

For six years, seven years, I have written here about the trials of the individual to find his or her name, to come to a place past the the fear and mistakes and inequity where one could stand, could be who they were complete - no part left out.

I hope you were listening, because things have changed with this election.

It is easy to point to figures like Dr. King, or Susan B. Anthony, or Cesar Chavez and say you're just an ordinary person, there's nothing brave or special about you. It takes a figurehead to lead. But that is exactly wrong. First, each of them had people who were willing to be beaten, jailed and killed to serve the cause of justice. You and I are foot soldiers here. But more importantly, if you have gleaned anything from these writings you know it is incumbent upon you to act from the truth you know. You don't have to lead a march, or be jailed. You simply stand against racism in your day to day life. You stand against misogyny in your day to day life. You act out of a sense of shared destiny rather than self-interest. If you have children to raise you must model this or they will take on what is being modeled around them by those in power. Are your children to be bullies? Your daughters to be objects of male violence and gratification? Your sons perpetrators of these crimes?

Whatever life you imagined for yourself has now been altered by these facts on the ground. As Campbell says, you have to let go of the life you planned for the one waiting for you.

* * *

I woke this morning after a night of little sleep and suffocating dread. Years ago I berated an older gentleman for the shit world he'd left behind: the work of his generation the atomic age and ecological destruction. This morning I realized I was of the generation that allowed this horror to come to pass. Not by the way I voted, but by the way I lived: never working for anything other than my ego (at first) and then my kids. But don't be fooled by that last clause. What I did for my kids was necessary, but missed the mark. My spirit should have been broader, more generous, more willing to fight for an inclusive world. I could have been a better example of how to fight for what is just. Instead, I circled the wagons, got us through and could only think about how to pay my fucking bills. I didn't do them wrong. I just didn't make clear the larger circles.

And now we stand on a precipice. If you think I am over-exaggerating, then fuck off. You've learned nothing here and you are beyond my care.

But if you recognize that the life you have lived, that you assumed would be there has suddenly shifted under your feet with this hideous expression of male impotence, then I have something for you. What was true once remains true now: The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost and all seems darkness, then comes new life and all that is needed.

A fight has been joined while you slept. Your old life has ended whether you wanted it to or not. You are now being called out of yourself to act from the truth you know in your bones: you are not alone. It is frightening to stand in the open, but you are not alone. It is difficult to resist racism, to call out misogyny, but you are not alone. It is dangerous to disagree, but you are not alone. What you need is at hand and it is enough to begin. The courage you are uncertain of is already in you. 

For people who think like this, we face hard times. Do not be afraid. You are not alone and together there is hope. I have no idea what shape any of this will take, my only promise is that I will not relent, I will not give up, I will not give in, I will serve and give by whatever gifts I possess and the ones I'll need to acquire along the way. Life demands life. It insists on your full measure. I promise you mine.

* * *

Noli timere, my friends. Noli timere.

__________

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