The axial tilt shifts again, signaling the change of our seasons. Half will turn from gray to green and the other from green to infernal reds, yellows, browns, and golds. Having had their say, winter and summer begin their intermissions, catching rest before the next performances a quarter-year away. I think of you often amidst these changes and how I don’t know and can’t know and refuse to know and will never know and should never know you. The permanence of ignorance is oddly comforting–perhaps it really is the darkness of the unknown that makes us shine brighter. There is perfection in the absoluteness of your silence.
By contrast, the world has had its weekly unhinging, where dry is wet and wet is worry. Nature teems with surprise, but sometimes it gets pretty bold with some of its moves. Always a dependable kitchen companion in the brewing of strife. And here we are, the human collateral of conflict, inequity, and natural disaster all strewn about, magnetized to glimmers of opportunity that hover–always–just above the horizon. The lives and livelihoods of the unwanted and unprotected are bandied about by distracted powers who have no qualms about metabolizing the suffering of others for their own longevity. They circle the wagons and cry “Other!” in coup of reality, and the conditions that lead to the abandonment of home and history advance unchecked. Hopefully you can see through the cynicism to the sadness.
Old wounds fester and new ones smart, but the cautery applied to prevent additional injury is but another cycle of the epic Groundhog Day of international relations through which we must live out–and sacrifice–our lives. The monotony of suspicion, accusation, detention, and disappearance–and the concomitant outrage that flares and dies–divides the world in two: those for whom conflict is an existential state and those for whom it is not. For some, however, there are moments of escape from under the thumb of control, and the “dissuasive work” conducted as clean-up briefly illuminates the mechanisms that create and maintain discipline in oppressed societies.
This chicanery is not merely a game that resets upon completion of each of its iterations. The traumas of betrayal emblazon permanent scars, etching doubt into our faith in the future and those to whom we turn over our lives to lift and protect us. The treachery is all the worse given the great lengths we go to as individuals to care for those we love. Though occasionally we recognize the glint of justice against the bitter dark of hardship, distinguishing glint from mirage is no easy task for our moral perception.
How telling then that we have begun looking for a restart button, a point of flight from which to leave this tangled mess we’ve made. But where will we go and how? We’ve forgone #RacingTogether in favor of racing away with whatever alliances benefit us. We’re searching for new plots on which to replicate our home, yes, but also for escape from the bankruptcy we cannot look in the eye. Is warp speed fast enough for us to outrun our failures?
Enough. I’ll put away the goodbye balloons. Let there be no confusion: we haven’t given up just yet. Hope (or stubbornness) survives. Resilience courses through our veins, pumped by overworked but undeterred hearts, pushing us forward, upward, outward, beyond, even as boulders tumble through and imperil our way. Whatever power we hold is in time unleashed in the planet’s great chaos of wills because hope, the four-letter word that lifts us from sleep and sustains us, still finds haven on this planet. Futures rise from an arm or a cup of tea. Empathy seeds possibility.
The building of futures starts with a view of the future as already past, inherited and judged by distant progeny. Some of our most relevant and urgent work, then, is the writing of our own histories and examining the attitudes and judgments we take towards conditions we have angled into the passenger-side mirror in the drive forward–receding, but always closer than they appear. We take note of how we pause to honor and account for the architects of the unlikely while recognizing their passing as an opportunity to reflect on where and how we have traveled, and our coming destinations.
It is a privilege to live in a broken world, though I know I occupy a particularly privileged place in saying so. Without the absurdity of our imperfections, there would be no place for the brilliant spectrum of our emotions and behaviors: rage and hatred, yes, but also serenity and laughter. And without laughter, there is no appreciation for the greatest absurdity of all: the fact of our being here, now, to laugh in a sea of near-uninterrupted silence.