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Shedding Light


Stephen Colbert just inspired me.

Not on his show, and not with his usual high wit, but rather in a talk with Oprah, on her podcast, this from March, I believe. Colbert was asked about the purpose of his show, particularly in response to the current political climate, one in which an extreme right-wing populism has taken over governments on continents across the globe. Colbert spoke of the need for community. Of how he and his team of writers aim to speak of the news we’ve all seen that day, and to reflect back on what we’ve all been talking about, reading or thinking. That the goal for him is to bring us in to a community to say: you are not alone. “Because these are lonely times,” he said. No, you are not crazy for thinking what you’re thinking. Trump wants you to think you are, but, Colbert reassures, you are not.

Colbert spoke of Trump’s using fear. How he used it so effectively to get elected. He referenced a quote the gist of which is that when we’re afraid we cannot think. That only when we calm our irrational worry can we re-engage the brain and react rationally.

Thus, the last thing any of us desperate to see this horrible man’s reign of power one day come to an end, is to give in to that fear. Something I think many of us have done. I certainly have. But what Colbert has given me, why he’s inspired me, is he’s finally given me an avenue down which I can challenge Donald Trump and his kind.

It’s now clear that opening platforms to rational debate with fear-mongering white supremacists is no way to wage this battle. I’ve been wondering for so long: how do the Democrats in the U.S. and moderates elsewhere fight politicians who we’ve long since learned don’t actually stand for anything. They stand against. They stand in opposition. They are agents of fear and agents of hate. They have no moral backbone. They are very good for the ultra rich and disastrous for those most in need. How do you win, speaking now directly about Donald Trump, against a cheater(in business, marriage and most assuredly politics)? Someone you know will pull out every trick in the book to win, no matter how dishonest or unfair?

Colbert reminds me what all great spiritual leaders do. That it is only in a calm and rational state that we can begin to respond in any kind of constructive way. People need to be able to calm enough to think, and if they can think they can understand the depths to which a Donald Trump is a disastrous force for no good in this world. Not to mention, that much of the evil he speaks of is a gross exaggeration of problems neither as simple nor as racially charged as he warps them into seeming to be.

Thus first and foremost, like standing in a hot yoga class, in a world where those still exist — cause it’s not ACTUALLY that bad out there — let’s take a deep breath and remember:

The sun still shines.

The hot yoga class continues to humble men the world over.

Kids still trick or treat on Halloween and have a lovely time doing it (as do their parents!).

School teachers still work so hard to educate little brains.

Cities still run.

Heroes do still exist, even if they don’t like the movie stars we cast to portray them.

Families still find ways to join together, eat too much, talk too much (or is this just the Jews?).

And dark times do always come to an end.

This is not World War II we’re living through. It’s not close. Most anyone reading this is living in a prosperous place, living a comfortable life. Let’s not forget that the world is not so very different under Trump; he’s just an extremely effective salesman with a dastardly pitch. His aim is to sell us fear and chaos. He wins if we give in.

Diwali, the Hindu holiday that just passed is, I only just learned, like Chanukah and Christmas, a festival of lights. As the days grow short, we need these lights to huddle round. To eat too much. To sing. To give presents. And also we need hope.

Thanks, Stephen Colbert. A little rationale. A little sanity. And much hope. Shed a little light to help us see our way through what may be a very dark tunnel, but being as such does in fact have an end.

Jon Mendelsohn