It’s the winter solstice, and, apparently, the darkest in five hundred years, and frankly, it feels appropriate. On a public level, I don’t remember a time so full of anger, resentment, prejudice, greed and callous indifference to the suffering of others. There was Brexit, the shambles of politics in the US, terrorist atrocities, the horror of Aleppo, and don’t get me started on the looming disasters of climate change, the parlous state of the earth’s biodiversity, the return of unreconstructed sexism and racism, the indifference to truth, justice and compassion and the incredible viciousness of social media trolls, some of whom were much nearer to home than I expected.
And yet. On an individual level, it was very different. So many people spoke up. So many people joined protests, gave money, rallied to support people they knew to be in difficulty. Twice during the year when life got to me, my facebook friends got me through it with kindness and encouragement. Real world friendships have been strengthened, and good work has been done. Some poets I’ve been rooting for have had great books out, and more are going to be published in the next year. Some friends who have found this year personally challenging have come through stronger and more wonderful than ever. And the two big medical situations in my family have reached a level of stability I’d given up expecting.
And so I’m going to share this rather odd poem, which pretty much expresses the odd, contradictory way I feel about this dark time.
The Revolution Will Not Be Crowd-Funded
The revolution will not be engineered.
Someone with a hammer will casually
construct the new homes out of the wreck
of burned-out shopping malls.
The revolution will not be forecast.
It will happen in small outbreaks
and daily resistance to the dull
and casual cruelties of power, to build
bulwarks of compassion.
The revolution will not be fertilised.
It will happen in despite
of good intentions, celandines
seeding through the cracks
in broken tarmac or the stillness
of abandoned airfields.
The revolution will not be smart,
specific, measurable or timed.
The heart will have its way and love
will be ineluctable as lightning
in a clear sky, arcing everywhere.
Whatever festival you are keeping this holiday, I hope you will have time to become reacquainted with peace, comfort and friendship. We’ll carry their light out with us next year.