It has been a simple Christmas here at the Danewitz/Yoder household. We've seen the relatives, exchanged the presents, eaten the sweets and savories. I hope you all are well.
Since the election, I have experienced a clarity that I did not previously have, for which I am grateful. On November 3, in a women's room along the Penn Turnpike, I hugged a woman from the other side after we discussed the results. We differed on many things, but we agreed on many fundamentals - she had seen poverty in Russia, where I had seen it in Africa, but we both knew that poverty must be reduced. I ache for the plight of African AIDS victims, while she worried about those being slaughtered and tortured in Sudan, but we both knew that Africa must be helped.
I just read Bertrand Russell's short Three Passions essay, where he speaks of the 'unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.' I keep turning that phrase over on my tongue. There is much to pity - the five million children killed by malnutrition each year, the continents where average lifespan is plummeting, the wars that twist the bodies and souls of both sides - yet I would call it instead
the 'unbearable love for mankind,' because it is the love, not the pity, for the world of wonderful, struggling people that so overwhelms me and aches my heart.
My clarity came from realizing that the fight is (as always) against the old enemies - ignorance and apathy - and that the hearts of many on both sides still desire to correct these flaws in our world. On both sides, we yearn to see children raised with strong bones and strong minds, we yearn to see justice for the unjustly jailed, and we yearn to see peace between peoples that war.
Humanity is a stubborn species, and our stubbornness makes us beautiful and frustrating. We shoulder heavy burdens, because we waste our precious, brilliant, creative energies in corrupt governments, tribal passions, and ugly conflicts.
A vigilant yet peaceful world is still possible, and I know that we can solve many of the problems on this planet. This season begs us to remember what our real goals are. What planet do we want Earth to be like next year? In ten years? In ten centuries?
I have recovered my voice. All of us who want a better world can speak, clearly and simply, of the moral and ethical goals that guide our choices. We can talk to those on the other side who also want wars to subside, and who also want to keep children from starving. I had forgotten how important it is to keep talking about these things, and I have been distracted by minutiae. How grateful I am this season to be reminded of the big picture.
Much love to you all, and may conflict withdraw from your life, leaving you more free to pursue your dreams,