On Darkness and Inner Demons

It’s been a long, hard, scary week in the world, and it’s only half over. There have been so many awful things happening that, when I sat down to think about this week’s blog, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. But I’m going to try to address two of the big things.

First things first: on Saturday, a black teenager was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. It’s an appalling and altogether horrible situation, and is just one in a long line of similar murders in recent history. I’m still trying to educate myself on the situation (despite the overwhelming urge to bury my head in the sand), but this is the best article I’ve seen on the whole situation so far, and while I had a lot of thoughts similar to this bouncing around my head, I would never have been able to express them so powerfully. When my partner posted this article on Facebook, ze posted it with the comment that, “If you are a white person in America, you need to read this. (Everyone else in America already knows and lives it.)” which sums up the truth of it pretty damn well. Read it. If it’s a choice between reading that article or finishing this blog post, go there, now.

One of the other things that’s been blowing up all over the news this week is the death of Robin Williams, which, it’s thought, was a suicide. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this. The fact that the suicide of a rich white man has gotten more media attention than the murder of a young black man is profound evidence of a number of deeply-rooted issues in our society. And Robin Williams wasn’t a hero. He, like many comedians, sometimes went for the cheap joke at the expense of people who absolutely do not need any more of that from the world (for example, the transmisogyny-perpetuating man-in-a-dress trope of Mrs. Doubtfire). At the same time, he was undeniably talented, and undeniably troubled by inner demons the rest of the world didn’t always see. Suicide, like any loss of human life, is always a tragedy.

These two news items have served as powerful reminders that this world is a dark, scary, overwhelming place a lot of the time. And not just the world around us, but the worlds we inhabit internally. We all have our demons. Darkness seems to be everywhere these days.

I find “it gets better” tropes to be pretty useless. Sometimes, it doesn’t really get better. It definitely won’t get better on its own. Things only change when we make them change. But we don’t always have the resources available to us to make things better for ourselves.

Which is why it’s so important that we, as human beings, take care of each other.

We can take care of each other by listening to one another, whether it’s to educate ourselves about the experiences of people who are different from us, or simply being aware of when the people around us need some extra gentleness. We’re all in this together. At the end of the day, we’re all human. If we could learn to value the humanity in ourselves and to recognize it reflected in others…maybe the world wouldn’t turn out to be such a dark place after all.

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