How do I know good can overcome ignorance, spite and hate? Because I’ve seen it.
A tweet moves Rob Hopkins to share a personal experience from his family’s life, from a blog by Rob Hopkins, Transition Network, 26th January 2017 Knowledge & learning
I want to share a story with you today that I’ve not shared before on this blog. I was moved by something I saw on Twitter to the effect that the future will not remember Trump, but the future will remember the remarkable things done by those mobilising to oppose him. It really resonated with me. I wanted to share a very personal story from my own life which, for me, illustrates that this is possible.
I lived in Ireland from 1996 until 2004. It was wonderful. From 2002 onwards, Emma and I built a home for our family, what was the first new cob house built in Ireland for over 100 years. Building this house was the culmination of a 10 year plan, something Emma and I had dreamt of for many years. The process of construction involved the input of many people.
It was a beautiful house, not a right angle in it, beautiful soft light, wood, stone, clay and hemp. A roof like an upturned boat. I loved it. I was so proud of it. We told the story in an online diary. It was in the papers, on the TV. We were at the stage of fitting doors and windows, the gorgeous, curvaceous clay plasters nearly complete. Although we weren’t living in it yet, it was starting to feel like home. Then, one clear, cold night in October 2004, someone set it on fire. We never found out who. Or why.
It was deeply traumatic. It felt like the end of everything. It felt as though the violent, deluded, criminal act of one or two people had torn up our family’s future and thrown it back in our face. Our future, which had seemed to be laid out enticingly in front of us, was now an unknown blur. It was horrible.
But then, in the days and weeks following the fire, something remarkable happened. Dozens of people, some of whom we didn’t even know, turned up to help clear the site up and make it safe. Neighbours came together to offer whatever support they could. Some friends started to organise a fundraiser in our name. People sent in cards containing cheques, or cash, often people we’d never met, or even heard of.
I want to tell you that you are surrounded by oceans of goodness, oceans of caring people – networks of people who are connected that just need to be activated. Get off Facebook, get off media that pours out trolls and hateful poison, and strengthen your connections to real, actual people.
The Women’s March last weekend was a beautiful, and deeply moving example that we are here, and we are here for each other. As was the ‘Resist’ banner unfurled just behind the White House. They reaffirm that values of care, kindness, connection and reciprocity haven’t gone away. They may sometimes need a disturbance to form around, an infection around which that immune system can kick in.
When people ask me why I don’t feel that Trump represents the beginning of the end – some inevitable slide away from connection and human values; it’s because rather than some kind of new normal, his approach represents the aberration to the norm.
Never forget that.
Comment: I am reminded of a presentation I did this week on Indigenous Spiritual Traditions – the white path (peacemaker) and the red path (warrior) co-exist. The malevolent and the good come from the same place, except that the one is the misuse of power. Malevolent action is the opposite of being in relationship. It’s anti-social and it’s isolating. And it’s choice. As Rob suggests, “get off Facebook, get off media that pours out trolls and hateful poison, and strengthen your connections to real, actual people.” I have classmates who believe this is ignorance. I call it being in relationship!