Beware the Bright Side

I’ve never read it, but I remember hearing an interview with Barbara Ehrenreich about her book Bright-Sided: When Happiness Doesn’t Help. I’m not sure I understood it at the time, but I’m feeling it now. I’m feeling the ways in which our culture’s tendency toward the positive keeps us from being able to transform. The ways which we use silver linings to avoid looking at the darkness that surrounds us.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
From: A Ritual to Read to Each Other, by William Stafford

We live in a culture that was designed to be broken. It was built on power and control, where there must always be someone at the bottom, so someone can live at the top. One of the primary myths of our culture is that any of us can be the one(s) at the top. Not so. Every once in a while, someone sneaks through, but mostly, no. We will be where we are. And we will like it. And as long as things could be worse’, we will keep about our lives.

These times are calling for something different. Something new. Something that helps us break free of the brokenness of the world, and heals the pain suffered all around (and I do mean all around). Black Lives Matter is showing the way. Trans people are showing the way. Indigenous People are showing the way. Let’s follow.

There’s only one way, though. It’s into the dark. There is a bright side, but it’s not in spite of the darkness. It’s because of it.

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Multiplicity It’s a bit silly to think of ourselves as being a fixed thing — a personality with a set of desires, preferences, and the like. Certainly, we are