I have yoga’d again this eve, but my heart wasn’t in it. I could not centre myself, or remain present in the moment. I could not force myself to hold the downward facing dog with my head dangling and the blood pounding in my ears. I could not let the light in me bow to or honour the light in others.
The lights I’d just seen were the flaming torches of those who gathered on campus at the University of Virginia on Friday night. A brave student observing events shared her footage online, and it is honestly one of the most chilling videos I have ever seen. Listening to them chanting ‘White Lives Matter’, before turning on the few student counter-protesters and beating them, it was so hard to remember that this was actually real, and not a scene from a dystopian fantasy series or a historical drama. Listening to the commentary of these two scared, brave girls, I cried, because what were they supposed to do? What are any of us supposed to do? I feel so helpless and everything feels so out of control. You watch these men and women marching proudly, bearing their torches aloft, chanting in unison, and deep down you know that they are people. Your mind screams at you that they are just other human beings, that if things can be explained to them rationally in the right way, of course they will see. Human beings are not evil. So please tell me why evil is winning?
What I find most terrifying is how easy it is for a powerful evil to prey on good people. Slowly, insidiously, little by little, it infects, infests. I was sickened during the Brexit campaigns by the way certain media targeted certain groups, and I was terrified by how effective it was, by how much hatred was being spouted on my Facebook feed by friends who had been dosed with misinformation and misdirected blame. These were good people, some of them were my people. How could they believe what they were saying?
I have to believe that knowledge is the antidote to this sickness. Accurate, factual information forms a barrier against those who would prey on our insecurities and fears. We all have a responsibility at the moment to ask questions, seek out truth and educate ourselves and each other. We need to do this with kindness, and to meet judgement with understanding. When I was watching those men parading with their torches, I felt the bile rise in my throat and I was overwhelmed with disgust. But hating these men isn’t enough. They are the pus-filled boil that lets us know about the infection beneath the skin. We have to work on understanding how they came to be there in the first place. And we need to understand how few steps there are between Joe Bloggs reading about how immigrants stole his pension in the Daily Fail, and the events in Charlottesville this weekend. Time is running out.
Apologies for the massively off-topic post, but I’m feeling all at sea.