Saturday, December 24, 2016

Best for Humanity

Back in the 16 year old days of my life I went for a walk on Christmas eve.  It was an uncommonly cold winter for Southern California, and while there was no hope of snow, there was thick fog and the breath we blew turning to mist and leading the way.  In my new found freedom as a 16-year-old, I went on a little excursion around my neighborhood.  Announcing that I'd be back in a few minutes, I walked the length of my street noticing the frosty windows, the lit Christmas trees or an occasional blue and white Hanukkah arrangement. It was a transcendent moment. I realized too, that every house on my block, both sides, was lit up.  There was no agreement among neighbors to do anything, it just turned out that everyone was on board that year. As I turned to walk back up the street, I stopped and made a vow.  Squinting my eyes to make the colors melt and sear them into my memory, I vowed to remember that moment always. I can still see the golden reds and bluish purples against a blue-black moonless sky. That moment was pure joy.
Maybe it's the fog we've had here in Portland recently, or perhaps the icy malaise that's befallen our country lately, but I was poignantly reminded of that Christmas eve today.

It was a moment in time when the world seemed to be in sync...seemed to be at real peace with itself. Of course that was an illusion.  That was the year President Kennedy was killed and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing.  It was a time when I was realizing the true nature of the mythology that enveloped the version of my country that I had swallowed. Definitely a transformative time in my young life. A time of thinking deeper and experiencing the daylight of realization.
Thinking back now, that moment I wished to freeze may have been nothing more than a brief respite from the world that was emerging and beginning to brandish it's uglier self for all to see. Even though TV was still mostly black and white, it was the vehicle that transmitted and transported social change.
This year feels hauntingly similar. Many of the gains of the early 1960s are unraveling before our eyes and ears. I still can't get my head around the fact that the Voting Rights Act has been a target.  No walks to lock in the Christmas lights this year. Just a warm beverage, a silent prayer, and a commitment to find and foster what is best for humanity and the humanity in my soul.

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