These seem like very dark days on earth. We are in the midst of a global struggle that many define as the Third World War. We fear terrorists with bombs. We fear our neighbors with guns. We fear that the earth is warming beyond reversible limits.
We are afraid. We are angry. Our governments seem to be working against us in a frantic effort to hold onto power and wealth.
Worst of all, to me: We are being convinced to turn on each other. We hurl the most hateful words at each other, sneering, “The libs hate America” and “Those neocons are a bunch of bigots.”
We stand on opposite sides, with a huge dark line between us. We face each other, but we can’t find a way to talk about our fear or our anger. We can only scream. “Put down the guns!” “Don’t touch my guns!” “Keep out the Muslims!” “Let in the Muslims!” “Liberals suck!” “Conservatives suck!”
We can’t find a way to look at each other and ask, “What is it that you want from your government?” or “What is your greatest hope?”
These are just dark days.
We turn on the radio and the TV, and all we can see is that ISIS is coming to get us. All we can hear is that terrorism is all around us. We begin to feel doomed. We begin to believe those who tell us that we have to protect ourselves from each other.
One of my sons shared a quote with me tonight. He said that it is resonating over and over in his head. He is 25 years old, on the brink of his full life. And this is what he hears in his mind: “What can men do against such reckless hate?”
So how do we hold onto hope?
We turn off the radio, unplug the TV. We stop thinking in labels (liberal, conservative, southerner, neocon, Christian, Muslim, white, black, rich, poor). We stop the shouting. We listen.
We look at the people in the grocery store. We smile at them and exchange a comment about the weather. We smile at children. We tell young mothers how beautiful their babies are.
We remember that it is a very big world, and most of it is safe and calm. We look into the eyes of the babies in our lives, and we find a quiet place in our hearts. We remind ourselves that those little innocent souls carry no labels yet. We take a breath, and we whisper a promise to those little ones. We tell them that we will do our best to keep the world in one piece for them. They smile up at us, trusting us to keep our word.
And that is how we keep hope alive.