I was thinking yesterday about that adage "the good old days." I've heard it in one form or another a lot lately: "These days," people say, "folks are so awful to each other -- just look at the comments sections of any major news site. People used to be more civil." Or "These terrorist plots are so frequent nowadays, aren't they? It never used to be this way." Or "I miss when politicians would at least be polite to each other -- when did dishonesty and meanness become the norm?" And to be frank, I get it -- it does feel like unkindness and violence and common decency seem to have flown out the window nowadays.
But then I think about the eras that people might be talking about when they refer to "the good old days" -- because really, when exactly are they talking about? The 60s? Because then, just in the US alone, there was the fire hosing of peaceful protesters. Anti-miscegenation laws. And so many assassinations of leaders. Or maybe folks are talking about the 70s -- except then, I can think of Kent State. The Iran Hostage crisis. Watergate. The truth is that I can think about times where people were less than kind -- or there was no common decency or there was horrible violence -- for just about every decade I've been alive, and that's without even going into specific wars or terrorist acts around the world.
The fact is that evil exists, and it always has.
But here's the thing: good also exists, and it always has. In every one of those eras, I can think of people who were famous for their kindness and honour. People like Martin Luther King, Jr. And Mother Teresa. And Nelson Mandela. And even now, wonderful, young Malala Yousafzai. And for every one of these extraordinary leaders, there are thousands of others who are largely unknown to the wider world, yet who are making changes in their own worlds and communities. They are extraordinary because in a world that is dark, they are light.
Spring is officially here, friends, the season of renewal. And to celebrate, let's all renew our commitment to be light. It is an extraordinary thing to be kind in a world that often isn't. To be generous when there is selfishness. And to be open-minded where there is so much loud opinion.
Make no mistake: doing these things is truly difficult.
But let's be extraordinary, anyway.
Soundtrack: Love's in need of love today by Stevie Wonder