Some Thinkings from an Atheist on Christmas
Thinking of the families of the artists of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, and the families in Cambridge whose homes burned earlier this month.
Thinking of the families of the Orlando nightclub shooting victims, and the innumerable other families dealing with the loss of loved ones due to interactions with guns this year.
Thinking of Korryn Gaines’ son; Kodi is spending his first Christmas without his mother.
Thinking of Diamond Reynolds and her daughter Dae-Anna, who is 5 now and whose father Philando can’t be with her on Christmas.
Thinking of Alton Sterling’s family, and of other families who had someone fall victim to police brutality and police murder this year, in hopes that justice will be served at all in any case.
Thinking of the water protectors in North Dakota, fighting for the future of our people and our planet against contracts banks and companies agreed on behind the backs of the people living on the land.
Thinking of those in Syria. For residents of East Aleppo who were just this week able to return to their homes following the expulsion of Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria, formerly painted as “rebels” fighting a “civil war” by most media) from their city.
Thinking of parents whose children in Yemen are dying from bombing and starvation due to arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which the mass media ignores.
Thinking of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Their cries for help are worth hearing and amplifying despite billions of dollars in US military aid to Israel.
Thinking of those in Haiti, who suffered a devastating hurricane and must rebuild yet again without meaningful help.
Thinking of those in Flint, where families face high lead levels in children’s blood that can lead to brain damage and learning disabilities. Water delivery has stopped and families are forced to buy their own water or drink the brown.
Thinking of those perpetually in prison for nonviolent crimes, and for political prisoners like Leonard Peltier whose son passed recently, and whose grandchildren rely on his release, which they most likely will not receive. Thinking also of Chelsea Manning, whose treatment continues to be cruel and unusual, whose whistleblowing has helped give us eyes we’ll need to dismantle a gummed-up power structure.
Thinking of the girls and boys whose lives have been stolen or suspended due to human trafficking. In Virginia, 7 times the national average of kids go missing every year. Annual child abduction estimates are 800,000 in the US alone.
Thinking of those homeless due to predatory lending by banks too big to fail and through arbitrary misfortunes, who are spending today in shelters and soup kitchens or on the street.
Thinking of those without hope or battling with despair and depression, and those thinking of suicide.
(this next part I think I imagined saying it holding hands in a circle with people)
In our own lives, thinking of all those we’ve affected in negative ways, to those we’ve hurt or engaged with callously, we send thoughts of warm healing energy and love.
We reach out to ourselves here, coming together in spacetime to spend Now with each other. Recognize the moment; we are all alive at the same time. Think of what a gift this can be. Our presence is our present.
Uncertainty is frightening. Uncertainty is also an opportunity to prepare for a future that doesn’t swing on a change at the top. A chance to choose sincerity over cynicism, humility over certainty, forgiveness over resentment. A chance to control what we can control, choose battles we can win, and take self-reflection seriously.
Last, a reminder: never stop speaking the truth out loud. How else will anyone hear it? How else will your own truth be sharpened?
I can’t promise a better 2017. But I can promise you are better prepared to handle the blows coming than you were a year ago. You are stronger than you have ever thought. You are resilient. You are capable.
You are ready.