"Please, can we not go there?" I'll respond. "Because—"
Because it's hard enough to get up in the morning.
Because no one functions well when they're filled with fatalistic futility.
Because we all have dragons to slay and it's unhelpful, even harmful, to believe the army of brutality will win the fight at the end of the day.
History holds more than the rise of fascism and the expansion of cruelty—there are ordinary people who step in and save children, women, men, families, forests, and animals everywhere.
We have caused harm to this planet and each other, I'm not denying that. On days where I feel all the feels—the many aches and pains of being human—and my memory plays an HBO special, a personal documentary of troubled times, I remind myself there is an antidote to the poison.
We can choose to see that others are also suffering.
We can listen and say "That sounds difficult. I am sorry to hear this is happening to you," instead of equating our experiences and comparing our difficulties: a waste of energy. We are not good at listening, but we hear things all the doo-dah day. Go figure.
We can take things for granted or we can be grateful for what we've been given.
Please understand, I'm not saying this is simple, effortless, or that I have mastered the art of gratitude. Occasionally, I answer the question "How are you?" with a "Can't complain, but give me a minute. I'll think of something." I'm hardwired to look for the bad and grumble: centuries of invasions, wars and plagues have been filtered through my bloodline and carried over generations. Personal strife and losses endured by my ancestors are encoded in my DNA. Those beliefs. Those worries. Those trials and sorrows. Certain survival mechanisms and techniques (aggression, comparison, gossip, judgment, sarcasm) have matured and ripened in our species. They can be composted into better methods of coping with hardship.
Tyranny and trauma might never leave us. Every era may produce a Cheeto Jesus. I keep reading about Trump even though it gives me a suckerpunch to the solar plexus. Thank Siddhartha that the Buddha of Compassion has promised to return, to reincarnate until we are all enlightened. Until then, remember Conan O'Brien's parting words on the Tonight Show:
"Please do not be cynical...It doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."
Of course it's complicated. Pappy worked very hard and is kind like "make a new definition of kindness, call it atomic generosity" kind and yet his circumstances are not what I'd call amazing. But he would. And when we get into our state of the world discussions, and he goes into that evil overpowers good territory, I think, "He knows. He's right. I should accept the cold reality."
Because so many heinous violent acts happen every second of every minute of every day.
All weigh heavy on our collective soul. Hatred born of fear is an infection turned terminal illness. For me, inoculation means recognizing where I am part of the problem and administering the vaccine of compassion.
Neon gods they come and go. Prophets, like everyone on earth, (and in Pappy's words) "are just pass by." Ancient Yogis said our breaths are allotted and numbered—one day, we'll all breathe our last one. How will you spend all of yours?
Practice: Inhale love, affection, devotion. Exhale gentleness, sweetness, tenderness.