Despair not!

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Thank god for art! I just saw a new movie called “Tomorrow Ever After”. It’s about a woman accidentally landing in our time period, coming from the future, from an era when people have evolved as a society to a higher developmental stage where oppression is eliminated and much of their socially inflicted suffering is gone. Historians in the future call our period of time “The Great Despair”. The story line implies that our resilience and humaneness as a species will help us make it through. Even though there is no way for me to know that to be true, I’d like to believe this is how we’ll end up.

Thinking of human resilience brings me to my recent trip back to my other home. I knew I wasn’t going for a relaxing getaway. I went so I could spend time with my dad. His declining mental health took me to scary and confusing places. I see some of my own behavioral patterns taken to extremes and can’t help but wonder if I won’t end up where he is. I have to remind myself that we are not the same. Somehow, god knows how, I have a different outlook and I act completely differently in the world. I ask myself how I became such a relatively high functioning and aware individual. At times It seems it happened against all odds.

What about you? If you really look at what you were handed squarely and what you had to face growing up, with all good intentions, would you ask yourself how you ended up with your good life, given the circumstances of your childhood? Chances are that you are better off than your parents and ancestors. I don’t know about you but one thing I know about myself is that it has taken quite a lot of work to get to where I am today and that it has also meant continuously deciding not to give in to irrational thinking.

Going back home has been hard for me in more than one way. Much like in the US and in other places, It is painful for me to look at some downward trends happening in the society because of how they are effecting the people I love and the place i came from. I hear so-called “leaders” spew hatred and division and perpetuate oppression and I watch my people buy into this kind of rhetoric. I’m choosing to deal with this pain by focusing my attention on the everyday gestures of kindness and wide displays of generosity that I encounter everywhere I go. Everywhere there are signs that people do care.

It’s hard to reconcile the evidence that people are fundamentally good with the harshness and closed-mindedness that is so heartbreaking for me to witness but the thing that keeps me going is my belief that as much as we seem to be experiencing a downward trend in human development there are signs of a competing upper trend that is actually superseding it. That the same way that in the personal level we were able to overcome inhibiting conditions and thrive, when it comes down to it we can trust ourselves to do the right thing by each other. The battle is long and we have our work cut out for us but I want to believe that our humaneness will prevail.

I want to believe this is true because what other choice do we have? Give up? I, for once, refuse to live in despair. Maybe choosing to be hopeful is what is at the essence of being human. Maybe all that is required for us in order to make it through this “Great Despair” is that enough of us choose to focus on our own goodness and see it in others?

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