Lighting Candles, Cursing Darkness

candleHopefully regular readers have noticed a change in tone both here in and on my social media posts. I’m trying to keep things light, and fun, and happy. I’m writing about good things that are happening in our lives, or whimsically weird things, things that I’m creating, and sharing tips for other creative people. That’s my focus for this page. I’m making a conscious decision to light a candle, rather than curse the darkness.

We really love Finland so far, although we are admittedly still in a honeymoon period. Katie’s classes haven’t started, and the long, dark days of winter have yet to descend upon us. That’s a different type of darkness, though. I would rather deal with the lack of sunlight than the violence, the sirens going all night long, the endless tide of beggars on the streets, and the stories Katie brought home from school about children with horrific home lives and the lack of political will to do more about it.

My frustration back in New Mexico was that I thought I was shining a light, on things that needed more attention, at problems that were being ignored, at situations that could be fixed but we left to crumble and decay. Poverty. Homelessness. Police brutality. The failures of the public education system. The connections between all of those things, and why they had pulled the state into a downward spiral that left it looking like a Third World country. People couldn’t understand was so angry. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t.

Over 50% of the children live in poverty. The state slipped from 48th to 50th in education and child welfare in three years. Yet the teacher-hating Tea Party Governor had a 58% approval rating. The Department of Justice determined that the Albuquerque Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” I was told rather forcefully that not all cops are bad, as if that makes it okay for mentally ill people, homeless persons, and pregnant women to be gunned down.

At some point, you can’t light enough candles. At some point, the darkness threatens to consume you. At some point, you realize that you’re up against people who are okay with that ruinous status quo or are at best ambivalent or at worst indifferent. I really felt as if, for me at least, the ship was sinking and I couldn’t patch the hole in the boat. There’s only so much one person can do, and it was overwhelming me. I needed to get out of there, or the darkness was going to destroy me.  You need to move away from the darkness, into a better place where there’s more healing light.

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