Candles in the Dark

In case you somehow missed it, a lot of people died over the past week in a number of tragedies across the world. Paris was only one of them. It’s not my usual habit to discuss politics, religion, or other polarizing subjects here, because that’s not my purpose as an author. I don’t write non-fiction, try not to proselytize about my personal views, and hope my work can be enjoyed regardless of most types of beliefs.

We’re all human, after all.

As my various social media whatnots are filled with statements about the various attacks, I find a singular theme emerges: numb weariness. Like anyone else, I have people in my circles who generally reside on one side of any given spectrum (the one that happens to coincide with my own), and I also have a smattering of folks who live in the other parts. Many want to talk about these events through their particular prism and fill my various feeds with news footage, speeches, and essays.

With people murdered every day because of ideas, property, and beliefs, it’s easy to become jaded and cynical. Chavali is that part of me. Like me, she stares out at the things human beings do to other human beings and can’t see how humanity will ever manage to reach the near-utopia of Star Trek’s ideals, even if they’re still a bit flawed. It’s easy to hope platitudes, prayers, or moments of sincerity will make it go away somehow. It’s even easier to make a donation to some charity and feel good about having done something.

Over the weekend, I pledged my blood, sweat, and time to a new convention, the idea of which came from Lou Berger and Quincy J. Allen. I’ll be part of the convention committee for the WeAreALLSFCon, a group formed as a response to the Hugo controversy and the divisive nature of it. Though that conflict pales in comparison to any where people die, I believe it’s a step in the right direction. Rifts formed in the community. Many of us would like to reach out and heal them.

That impulse is empathy. Everyone by psychopaths is capable of it. Sometimes we just forget how, or got burned once, or feel powerless in the face of overwhelming hate. As made clear by games like White Wolf’s Hunter, sometimes a single person is a candle in the darkness. Just because there’s only one doesn’t mean the world is better off without it, or the candle is frivolous and silly.

Right now, the world desperately needs candles, of any size or shape, tackling whatever darkness feels tangible to you. Do something, even if it’s not related to whatever the newest tragedy is. Real, physical acts of kindness and community, random or not, are butterflies whose flapping changes the world.

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