This is a time to let love guide each step, but it doesn’t seem like that. It seems like time to obsess over how bad it all is. It’s really bad. It’s a hard time for those who have to think in terms of short-term conditions — of surviving deportation, prison, attacks on our personhood.
Watching a caravan of displaced people approach our border, as families are violently separated and children are traumatized there; watching as members of our community are killed by police; watching as the language of trans identity is threatened out of existence… it can feel hard to see what we can do that will matter.
It’s also a devastating time for those who can lift their eyes to the horizon and see our long-term conditions: the changing climate, the weakness of infrastructure, the desperation of old systems like patriarchy and white supremacy as we shed them. It’s a balmy December so far in this golden age of global warming — it feels lovely if we don’t question how quickly our climate is changing in spite of the climate change deniers in positions of power over our policies. Our global reputation is appalling as we simultaneously disrespect the UN and cozy up to the leaders who order the assassination of journalists, including but not at all limited to Jamal Khashoggi.
What will guide our steps in these conditions if we aren’t proactive? Fear, of course. I think of it as justified terror. We aren’t scared of the unknown as much as the informed prediction of climate apocalypse and genocide. We aren’t scared of the possibility of race war but are feeling justified terror given the patterns of white supremacy to violently assert and defend itself.
Rage — the feeling that what is happening is so unfair and so wrong and so flagrant and so unforgivable — can guide our steps, but if it does, we can then focus only on revenge. We may call it victory, but what we want is the power to punish those who have harmed us for so long. The rage is righteous. But it ties us to the source of rage and imprisons us in trying to get some sense of right through the wrong.
Obsession can also guide our steps, a hyper vigilance around watching the crisis. We assert our own powerlessness when we give attention to those who seek to harm and oppress us but don’t put our energy into new actions. Being upset without letting the emotion change our behaviors is a pointless use of our incredible, complex system of emotions and changes.
That terror, that obsession, that rage — they all pull us away from our values. They pull us away from abundance, from possibility, from pleasure and joy, from freedom.
Love brings us back. Love brings us into the present moment. Love helps us to recognize the gift of being alive, alert, having agency, generosity.