The Unthinkable

Because it has never happened before, we think it cannot be.

And this is ironic, because we believe that in our aspirations and efforts, we can make what has never been.

We know that with heart and work, we can make a better, kinder world.

Unfortunately, those with awful values and hatred in their hearts also aspire and try. And with enough effort–and enough indulgence and blindness on the part of those who surround them–they, too, can make manifest.

As happened on Wednesday in the murderous, seditious attack on the United States Capitol.

There is much to say about this and it has been said elsewhere. I don’t need to go into details.

But in the darkness of this time, in the confusion and fear and anger this event has provoked among decent and goodhearted people throughout the world, there is a lesson to be taken, and it is not only that we must redouble efforts to stamp out hatred in our societies.

It is also that the need for what we are about, Atheopagans, has never been so great. Not in our lifetimes, in any case.

Never has the need been so strong for strong and vigilant efforts for equality, for democracy, for kindness.

For love.

Because hatred has been steadily stoked in recent years, by the fascist would-be dictator Trump and by the sorry, deluded and dangerous people who are his cult. Tremendous effort has been invested in building up this hatred, paranoia and fanaticism.

We must be the opposite. We must be the force for love in the world: not in a naive, Christian turn-the-other-cheek way, but through tangible action, strategic advance and devoted fealty to our true and kind hearts.

This is a frightening time. There has been an attempt at a revolution of hate, and there will probably be another before the inauguration of the new President.

So stay safe, stay strong, and hold the vision, friends. We’re in this for the long term and with diligence and commitment, the way of love will prevail.

A Sad Reckoning

I had hoped that the American Presidential election would be a repudiation of Donald Trump and the divisive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, fascistic nightmare of Trumpism.

That hope was not realized. While Joe Biden–a decent man who I think will be a good though not transformative President–will eke out a victory, nearly 50% of the country voted for Trump even after watching four years of his antics and destructive policies.

I could not be more disappointed…unless Trump had actually won.

I don’t link to him very often, but John Beckett has a very fine piece on this. You can find it here. He has said the things I want to say.

I am so saddened by this. Why, why are my people so filled with hatred and fear? Why will they choose leaders not in their own best interests, so long as they can stick it to those who are not like them?

We have so much work to do, friends. The Earth-honoring, kind world we hope for is still a long time in coming, and we must redouble our efforts to bring it about.

The Reality Settles In

I ‘m hearing it all over: the days are blending into one another. Every week is the same. My memory sucks. I feel anxious all the time. I’m depressed.

I’m feeling it, too. Even though I still get to go to work every week (and yes, that feels like a privilege), I feel cooped up and like nothing ever happens except work. Work itself is incredibly stressful: the food bank has doubled throughput of food since March and everyone there is stretched just short of the point of breaking.

The “adventure” phase of the pandemic has passed. No longer is this a project of pulling together and overcoming adversity. Now we see people for who they are, when they refuse to wear masks and ignore public health orders. And it very often isn’t pretty.

And then there is national leadership–both in the US and in many other places. What a mess.

This, as I have so often said, is a marathon, not a sprint. The disease, impact worsened by the incompetent federal management in the United States, is going to be with us for a long while. And many of our pastimes and pleasures are simply not going to be possible if we want to stay safer.

Anxiety and depression are natural responses to the omnipresence of the virus and the hypervigilance it requires to stay safer. It’s oppressive and stressful to have the threat of a serious disease dangling over you all the time.

This has real implications not only for our moods, but for how our brains function. Stress hormones are absolute murder on memory formation, so rather than being fearful or angry at yourself about what your sudden forgetfulness means, understand that it’s a temporary phenomenon and make accommodations. Personally, I can’t get ANYTHING done without a written list, on paper. Right now I can’t hold my tasks in my head, even to the degree of a 6-item shopping list.

I guess that what I want to say here, folks, is that it is normal and natural to have these symptoms under these conditions. Don’t worsen them by expecting yourself not to experience them and giving yourself a hard time.

If you can, try to get out into nature. It really helps. Even just a weekend camp out can work wonders.

In the meantime, hold on. I know it’s hard and frustrating and boring and you feel helpless. We all do. But we’ll get through this, as people have always survived pandemics.

Most of them, anyway.

My heart goes out to you. I know how hard it is to manage right now. It may feel like you’re sinking, but you’re not.

We’re going to get through this.

It’s going to be okay.