Today is dark, fitting the last day of Advent in the middle northern latitudes. Yesterday we had snow; now it is raining lightly and the temperature is again dropping towards freezing. Off to the west there is a hint of a break in the clouds. I am aware that by next Sunday the days will be noticeably longer.
This winter solstice we, in the U.S., find ourselves in dark times. It seems every day we are greeted with a new insult to our humanity, and the list of abuses seems destined to grow ever longer. Many are asking how we got here; many wonder where we go from here. I, too, have had quite a few wakeful nights pondering these questions, although I rather doubt that does much to support those in most need. Clearly we have two parties that are more concerned with the wealthy and ultra-wealthy than with the vast majority of our populace who seem ever more likely to live on the very edge. Both parties have contributed to the impoverishment of the many in order to enrich their preferred few, and have celebrated the shrinking of our already minimal social safety net.
These politicians have largely ignored global climate change, the equally clearly demonstrated relationship between poverty and illness, and the correlation between living in a rural area and exposure to health destroying pollution, especially in the south. They have also failed to address human rights issues around the world, hardships largely created by climate change and resource greed.
Now the most extreme of these politicians are set to impose their way on the 3/4 of the U.S. population that refused to vote for them. Clearly, there was no mandate, nor would there have been one had they won the popular vote. Most people simply refused to vote for either major candidate.
As the solstice approaches we settle into the long winter, and look forward to the return of light and warmth. We are reminded that we humans are animals and have our own cycles of conflict and peace. Our human created darkness is always followed by light, which gives way yet again to darkness. We have short memories, and many crazy notions about ourselves, the Creator, and others. We also have an enormous capacity for love, compassion, and kindness, and are gifted with the ability to change our behaviors, and find creative solutions to terrible difficulties.
As I approach seventy I find I would rather do so in a time of kindness, cooperation, and mutual support. I guess that is not my fate, and I feel both concerned and sad as I contemplate the next few years. Still, we will gather with friends this evening to acknowledge our relationships to one another, the Creator, Fire, and the Natural world. I will find solace and hope in the presence of those who resist hatred and greed, even as I wonder how much further the tide of hatred and greed can rise before retreating to the sea.
I imagine these thoughts are not far different from those waiting in Judea for the advent of liberation, of a new age of freedom, so long ago. After all, our hopes and aspirations are a part of our shared humanity, and may yet point the way into a better world.