The following came as a response to my blog post "Can't Help Smiling." I felt as though it was important to acknowledge these questions.
"does kario have a roof over her head,
Does she have a partner, a community...
Does she know the brutal facts about planetary warming...a recent report stated that China and the United States headed up the list of global warming contributors---and emissions had gone up last year, not down.
Does she know the rate of species extinction?
Does she know the living conditions for people post-Katrina?
Does she know what it takes to organize "us"? Is she part of organizing "us?"
I ask you because I don't know her. I live in an area in which there is no work, countless mortgage foreclosures, where the Social Service workers are stressed by doubling and tripling numbers of recipients; where people with Master's Degrees wait in line to apply for fast food jobs.
Sleep in their cars
Eat cat food and hold signs asking for work."
My answer is yes. I am painfully aware that I am one of the lucky few who have not suffered financial catastrophe, homelessness, destruction of my habitat or loss of my job or health insurance. However, I am also certain that my comfortable existence does not disqualify me from the ability to be deeply concerned with any and all of these difficulties.
Having spent over a decade of my life railing against the unfairness of life, fervently wishing my childhood had been less tumultuous and deciding that that ought to be enough to ensure that I was 'owed' something as an adult, I slowly came to realize that there was no such payment forthcoming. I couldn't possibly hope to change the past and expecting a positive future to grow from my anger was like planting a seed and watering it with rat poison.
"Can't Help Smiling" came out of an irrepressible positive feeling I have about the future. I refuse to react to the political climate with fear - I choose instead to talk about my opinions openly and encourage everyone I know to vote. I don't expect any magical panacea to come about regardless who wins the Presidency of the United States. I know that this country is not defined by its politicians. This country is defined by its citizens who can choose to be angry and blame others for the predicaments we find ourselves in or who can choose to look toward the future as rife with possibility.
There is no denying that things are incredibly difficult, in some cases life-threatening right now. Our choices from here on are two: find a community of people who are willing to make positive changes for all of us or continue to seek the perpetrators. We can probably find some of them. We may even be able to make some of them 'pay' for their mistakes. None of that will make us feel better in the end and it certainly won't undo what has been done. Moving forward with energy and hope together helps everyone. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. I am smiling because I have found people with spunk and spirit and heart more than they ought to have. I have discovered that each of us gets discouraged from time to time and in that group of individuals we surround ourselves with, there is always someone willing to lend a hand to stand us back up until our legs are strong enough again.
Making mistakes is how we learn. I grieve for the losses we have sustained and will continue to sustain due to the poor choices of others. Nobody can make me stop believing in the power of a passionate group of human beings who are determined not to be deterred. I'm still smiling.
I have lived with and without money. With and without health insurance. With and without the support of friends. With and without hope. The greatest poverty I have yet endured came at a time when I lived with all the creature comforts I could have ever wanted, but my days began and ended in a deep dark pit from which I could not emerge. Despite the material goods I had, I had lost hope and the understanding that anything could spark a light in this cave where I was existing. I had forgotten about balance. Yin and yang. Faith.
The people who reached out to me, both strangers and friends, reminded me that the horizontal connection between us is not to be dismissed. The most basic core of energy that exists in each of us can only be replenished by reaching out to connect with the energy of others. We sustain each other. We are each other's strength. The power of that darkness was terrifying, but in the end it was no match for the amazing potency of kinship. The ripples we create in this pond by caring for each other and recognizing the good in ourselves and others reverberate farther and wider than we can imagine. This, I believe.