It’s surreal, from Obama to Trump, Covid shutting doors around the world for two years, heat waves above 110 degrees in our little buttercup town – then throw in some days of gratitude, fun with friends, rains and earthquakes.
So, here’s what’s on my mind lately: How can so many people still be invested in violence and the removal of human rights? Daily, we see an upsurge in dictatorships, senseless killings, the destruction of the earth, hate crimes, and harm to innocent humans and animals. Feeling flabbergasted while trying to write about it is like swatting a persnickety mosquito near my ear. (Yes, it bugs me.) How can we re-make this catawampus world?
Anne Lamott chronicles our current lives honestly and with whimsy: “Each day the data stream is even more bizarre and disheartening… you steadfastly love and serve everyone, see people through tribulation, savor the relief, and give thanks, then, boing – a new setback. It’s like tucking an octopus into bed at night: new arms keep popping out.” (Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage.)
I understand that the human condition is muddled and complex. But seeing so many kind and caring people in contrast to the angry, cruel ones is just mind boggling. In Small Kindnesses (a poem quoted only partially), Danusha Lameris captures human goodness: “I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs, to let you by. Or how strangers still say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes, a leftover, from the Bubonic plague. ‘Don’t die,’ we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.”
There are so many big-hearted humans. Can’t we learn to turn our problems around, be more respectful, mature people? I believe we can build better infrastructures, communities, and systems that care. I know we can.
Still, here we are, too many people allowing awful, terrifying things to happen: starving children, the money gap, housing horrors, grocery costs, climate crisis, school shootings, the lack of mental health services, nuclear threat, women’s rights threatened, and much more. It asks our attention. We are witnessing the tilting of the globe with half of it hungry, at war, or without liberty.
We have much work to do as an evolving species and we can do it. I do think that with all of our ingenuity and persistence, we can re-imagine new ways to thrive by staying engaged, personally and politically – becoming civil humans, voting and communicating calmly. Do what you can.
We’ve been traumatized many times in this decade, making us edgy. We know life is fragile now. As my mother used to say, “watch the bouncing ball.” Just do the next step. Contribute, do service, self-care, give generously, get out your emotional hairballs, safely, with friends or family. Acknowledging what hurts helps us have compassion.
After all, in the end, what will be left on our lips when we leave this quibbling, wobbling world, is love.
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Sonoma and the Bay Area for 35 years. She’s written two books: The Courage to Speak Up and The Power of Being Heard. Conversations With Katy.com. 707.548.8982