Level Letters: Evil Wants You Hopeless

There has been SO much deeply sad news this week. I recognize much of it is nothing new, but it is terrible, and it looks a lot like a pretty insurmountable, complicated set of problems.

As I’ve read and watched various reports, I’ve felt weight I imagine is only a small fraction of that those affected most directly feel day after day after day.

It can feel draining, painful, like a mountain so big and a trail so long, so laced with obstacles, that we will never make it up.

But here’s the deal:

Evil wants you hopeless. 

Evil wants you demoralized, believing it is too complex, too big, too hidden in spaces you can’t possibly clear out. It wants you convinced you can’t dismantle the systems that don’t work, believing this is too big for you to impact. Because as long as you believe this, evil is safe. Evil has found a refuge.

As long as you’re convinced you can’t impact the big, big, big problems, evil uses hopelessness to keep you silent. That silence is neutrality in a scenario where neutrality is not love.

I have wrestled with whether I ought to even touch this topic. The fact that that’s an option for me is privilege exemplified. I am mortified to get this wrong, but silence seems unequivocally wrong, so I’m trying. Fear of getting it wrong is, and has for some time been, an ally for all that is wrong.

These are not problems that will be completely resolved in the short term, or without those of us for whom engaging (or not) is a choice choosing to engage. These are not problems that can be solved and finished individually—but individual effort is sure as hell a better contribution than inaction. For now, I’m mostly listening—I know there are oceans of pain, fear, and outrage I can’t completely understand—and sharing this.

I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy, a lot about discomfort. As much as I fancy myself a logical decision maker, carefully weighing pros and cons, the truth is most of my best choices have been made largely by feel, so it’s important to remember that often doing what is true and good and right is still accompanied by huge discomfort. Discomfort and healing go hand in hand. Discomfort is an indicator that there is progress to be made.

When disease makes its way into us, we fight. When a tumor is removed, it causes what can only very generously be called discomfort. More than it is uncomfortable, it is necessary. The body the tumor was calling home is better for the change. When ideas with strongholds that have no right to your soul—ideas you may not have previously realized existed within you—are removed: discomfort. But you, and we, are better for it.

Discomfort (or anger or agony) can be educational; sitting with it. Learning from it.

For me, this learning has looked like purposefully pursuing information from those whose backgrounds and lived experiences are very different from my own: seeking out voices of people of color, voices of people who have done the work. There are many who have been showing up and doing the work for years, and we live in an incredible time of access to information. In another era, you may have been limited by your own geographic and social place in the world, but now with a few clicks, we have access to thoughtful world views and bodies of work we may never have found in the past. We have the ability to, with a little effort, step into perspectives that may be unfamiliar while sitting in our living rooms. Then, we’ve been having conversations in our own home; long, involved conversations about what the problems are, how they came to be, how we may have participated, what solutions might look like, and the depth of investigation and work required for real, holistic change. We’ve asked hard questions, and we’ve stayed in the difficult discussion because it’s important, and it’s past time.

I know very little for certain, but one thing I know for sure is that if we can find our way from hopeless to convicted, that’s powerful.

And it’s necessary.


P.S. I’ve shared a few of the voices I’ve been learning from below. I hope if you’re looking for a place to start, this helps.

Have feedback you’re generous enough to share with me? I’m listening. Comment or email me. 

A Resource Roundup for Those Looking Where to Start by Rachel Cargle
I’m linking to one particular post because it’s a solid starting point focused on knowledge, empathy, and action, and it’s filled with links to resources. Rachel’s Instagram handle is @rachel.cargle.

The Conscious Kid (@theconsciouskid)
This is a non-profit focused on parenting and education resources through a “Critical Race Lens.” I’m not a parent, but was introduced to this organization recently and find their presentation of information really helpful and understandable, with or without a lot of prior education in this space.

Courtney Ahn Design (@courtneyahndesign)
Art is the language of the soul, and Courtney makes art with purpose. Food for thought presented in beautiful ways.


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