Sunday, January 23, 2011

In the Heart of Light and Shadows

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything
I still believe that people are really good at heart.
                                             -- Anne Frank

I dunno, Anne.

As a child of the 60’s, I thought so too. Sure, I was aware of evil in the world. People who stole and murdered. People who took advantage of the weak and unfortunate. People who refused to extend the hand of friendship (let alone love) because the color of the other’s skin, or the tenets of his religion, or the country her grandparents immigrated from did not match theirs. I knew there were dark-hearted people who created shadows in America.

But there were also those who carried a light that shone from within their own hearts. There were the church folk and their God who said that we should love one another. And there were the musicians who sang on the radio urging us to “love one another right now.” And there were people in the streets who not only danced, but reached out a hand in friendship. Who wouldn’t be told who to love. Who started soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Who marched for the rights of people who weren’t members of their own tribe, and who taught at schools that weren’t in their own neighborhood. Who cried when the bad men killed people who wore a different skin color. These were the people who hoped and loved, who worked for a better day, and who stood up against the shadows in men’s hearts.

And these people are still in the world, carrying the light simply because it’s righteous and joyous.

But shadows still spread long and hard in the hearts of too many of us. Too many still hate – yes hate, not misunderstand, not mistrust, but hate – those who do not resemble them, who believe differently, who travel from another country to pursue the same dream (some of) our ancestors dreamt. Some who still hate those who want a piece of the pie we say is ours. And too many are willing to march and scream, and spit and snarl, and burn and kill, because they truly believe that those “other people” hate them too. Not because of what they’ve done, but simply because of who they and who those others are. It’s only natural, no?

So, I dunno, Anne. I don’t know if we are really good at heart. I don’t know if we are really bad at heart either. Maybe, just as sun and rain are good in the right proportions, just as tools and guns are only evil when you misuse them, and just as speech and literature can inspire or incite, we are good and evil in the same proportion and in the same manner that we spread the light or welcome the shadows. And, while maybe it is all just part of the ebb and flow of the human condition, I wonder if we can help each other now by shining a light into a shadow when we happen across it, rather than stepping in, and letting the darkness tint our better selves. Because Anne Frank also said: “I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.

We are not trapped in an attic, hiding from the shadowed hearts. We can carry a light in our hearts into the sunshine of now.


Janie said...

I dunno, either, but I suspect people are both light and dark, good and evil, as you suggest. I suspect there is a little of both in all of us, but it's up to us to shed light into our own dark corners as well as into the dark corners that harbor those who would express themselves through violence and hate.
I believe there's still room for light and good and acceptance of those who are different from us in our world. I hope that's true and remains so.

Lori Skoog said...

Hey Coyote...well put again. People make choices based on many things. They have been influenced by family, environment and media. Not enough of us pay it forward...instead hands are held out saying "gimme." So many people don't even think about light and shadows...or the words of Anne Frank. They are too busy doing their own thing and don't watch out for the next guy. Don't even know who lives in the house next door and have never considered doing something for the community. What is so hard about teaching our children to become care about others (with some serious understanding). I'm not saying that everyone is that way, but I question some of today's values. Don't get me started.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Fe,
How's the book coming?

ksjoyce10 said...

Thank you Fe

rebecca said...

All of us are born with light and dark inside of us, just like all of us are born with cancer cells. Now just like cancer, if we end up embracing the dark more than the light it is because of outside factors that puts it into motion. We are born innocent. We are born innocent into families that have prejudices handed down to them just like religion. And these prejudices are then handed down to us; our legacies. They are the awakened, the ones that refuse to conform, the ones who question that break away from our "nurture" and decide to follow our own true "nature." This applies in both the good and bad sense. The world is ying and yan Fe, for every good there is a bad, it is nature's way of balancing things. You see it in the animal kingdom, you see it in the human kingdom. "Nature" can be cruel and heartless and kill for no reason; but it can also be good and kind and giving.

On another're writing a book?! Yay! Do tell, email me....

((hugs)) dear friend,