We have a great deal to be thankful for in this moment. Though there can be no denying that a shadow has been cast across our lives, though the shape and rhythm of those lives will very likely change drastically, and not for the better, and though the work before us is more difficult and essential than we expected it to be in our lifetimes, we are still gathered together, still united in the act of placing our faith in one another, and in one another’s words.
That seems essential, because we are facing times which will see those who wish to take away and cast aside much of what we hold dear empowered to do so. I believe that we are faced with times which will prove difficult and dangerous, times which will threaten our lives in ways that we have worked against, held out hope, and prayed they never would.
I believe we are living in one of those moments of human history which resonate with the kind of significance and gravity that echoes through the decades and the centuries, and difficult and grim though the suspicion may taste, I believe that many of us will not see the other side of these times.
There are many who would tell me that I am overreacting, that things are not so bad as they seem, and that my perception is one that prescribes dissension and fear. But that is not what I am suggesting. On the contrary. I am not afraid.
The threats against our persons and against the institutions that collectively promise us the hope of civil liberties and human rights are real and will not be easy to overcome. The hatred, paranoia, violence, and ignorance that levels those threats against us and informs their kind and quality are even more dangerous. Those driven by these forces seek to dismantle the progress that we have made towards a just and equitable world. Almost in passing, these same forces promise to kneecap our best efforts to redress the physical harm we have done to the environment of our planet. But I will not be made afraid.
For in this moment, it seems very plain to me that our hope lies in the sort of courage that transcends our former applications of the concept. The magnitude of the situation in which we now find ourselves supersedes our understandings of the meaning of fear; the stakes are extreme, the time is short, and experience paints a truly terrifying picture, a picture that the free people of this world swore to prevent forever, and now looms over us with freshly sharpened knives.
Our fear will do nothing to aid us. Fear is a weapon of the cowardly; it has always been so. It is through fear that we find ourselves turned against our friends and neighbors, through fear that they find our convictions to be threatening, through fear that our beliefs, our ideals, our very bodies are made grotesque and misshapen in one another’s eyes, and it is through the loathing and terror inspired by these twisted conceptions of one another that violence blooms and tyranny establishes itself.
It is through our courage that we will achieve clear sight, allowing us to see ourselves and one another as we truly are. The courage with which we respond to these threats must be an order of magnitude greater than the fear with which we are threatened, and the psychic, spiritual, and material acts of courage that we find ourselves tasked with leave no room for error, no room for conviction that is not total.
Now, like never before, we must place our trust and our faith in one another.
Now, like never before, we must recognize our differences for what they truly are — shadows and static, cunningly manufactured by those who would corrupt what is best in us, what is diverse and breathtaking and beautiful in our variety of being into lines through which hierarchy, domination, and control are established.
Now, like never before, we must be thankful for the time that is given to us and for those we love with which to share that time. For the opportunity to use our time, however short or long, in the service of that love, in honor of that love.
We must have the courage to love. Not merely to sloganize around some general idea of love, but to act radically and fearlessly in love, to love beyond fear and pain, to love beyond the specters of misery, destruction, and death. It is our love which will be the death of doubt, of shame, of cruelty, of vengeance, of fear.
Now, like never before, we must recognize that the bonds we share with one another, even with strangers — even with those who would call themselves our enemies — are stronger than the fear which threatens to drive wedges and destroy bridges between us. That our bonds of kinship and citizenship have the power to overcome even the trespasses of the hateful, of the corrupt, of those who would have us isolated and in chains. Their power stems from our being prevented from standing together. United because of our differences, in celebration of our differences — how much stronger a model for resistance could we wish for? That precisely is the great nightmare of the tyrant, and the parasites that glut on the carrion the tyrant provides.
Acts of violence, recrimination, hatred, ignorance — of anti-Black, anti-Native, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQIA, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, misogynistic sentiment — and general fear are sweeping our nation. I do not wish to minimize the notion that we are entering grim and difficult times. I consider it a fact.
I have chosen to have faith in the courage and love of the people around me, in the courage and love of the people of my homeland — I, though born on distant soil, have no home but the United States — and I have chosen to act always and without fail in every way, through every avenue available to me, in such a fashion as will reward the faith those around me and those who do not know me in my own courage and in my own love.
I will not be tyrannized. I can be imprisoned, censored, put to death, but I cannot be spiritually contained, silenced, and what is death to me? A threat by which I should not live? Nonsense. If death is the worst those who believe they are my enemies can threaten me with, then I am comforted. I am not alone. There are more who will come after me, and if my death can pay the tenth part of a cent towards the price of their freedom and their joy, then it is death well-spent, and a life well-lived and well-rewarded.
If we should fail, and the world as we know it come to destruction? That will not change the quality of our sacrifice, nor rob us of having fulfilled our responsibilities as human beings to the world and its innocents, which we must protect whether success is guaranteed or hopeless.
Our time of reckoning has come, our time to show our mettle. And it is our values that will determine the shape of these times, and the quality of our response to their challenge. Our conceptions of justice, freedom, equity, love, unity, compassion, kindness, and kinship will be our banners, bright colors and beautiful sigils whipped in these turbulent winds to their full extent and glory, and our courage will be the great aegis behind which they will fly as testament to the world which we will continue to build, will continue to grow and protect.
And though we be few on a hill, surrounded by a sea of death, and though we fall crushed and unremembered, still we will fall with the true music on our lips, the true song in our hearts. No act of resistance is for nothing, and no deed of love can be obliterated utterly. And there is every chance that we may yet prevail, that our courage will kindle that imperishable flame, and that by the light it casts we may be availed of the illumination we so desperately need to carry on, and make this world anew.
I choose to stand where all can see me.
I know that I am not alone.
I say, fear not.