There are times in life when things feel terribly ominous. It can feel like there is no point in hoping for good and no value in trying to do the right thing. My husband and I have been vaccinated and boosted. Our kids were vaccinated within a week of their inoculation coming to pharmacies near us. Yet, masks are still necessary and people are still dying. Negro History Week was the precursor to Black History Month, celebrated during the second week of February around the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It was developed with the desire to bring attention to the influence of people of color in the United States, typically left out of traditional textbooks. Nearly a century later, people are trying and sometimes succeeding in preventing this history from being taught. The Civil Rights movement feels defeated and its memorial nothing but an art installation. The US helped to end WWII and then enlisted Nazi scientists to help it get astronauts to the moon. Now, learning about the atrocities of the Holocaust is deemed too extreme for middle school students by some and we’ve convinced ourselves that our immigrant detention centers aren’t concentration camps, because we use the same actions of the supposedly good Nazis we employed for our benefit as proof that we’re not really that bad. We’re not Nazi level bad, right? Hitler and his followers modeled their actions on our own race laws, but deemed that the US went beyond what was reasonable. When a man responsible for the deaths of millions of people believes that we were too harsh, it really does feel hopeless…. The evil we are capable of, how torturing becomes simple, how hate becomes godly and moral. We are dangerous and no better than the animals we eat. At least, it feels that way right now. All of our progress can seem so small depending on the color of the lens you look at it through. We are always fighting, always trying to win something, always hurting something, someone. But, we are also always bonding, sharing, and healing. We continue to survive, somehow, year after year. When Frozen 2 came out, Into the Unknown was the song most people were singing, but The Next Right Thing is what left me whimpering in a theater surrounded by children, including my own. I can’t watch that part without crying, because the lyrics encompass so many truths about pain and life and fear and hopelessness. During ominous times, it’s ok to only know the next right thing and take a step, and step again.
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