I'm a bit of a Joss Whedon fan. In particular, my favorite of his many shows is, of course, Firefly. I know I've blogged about it before, but it just seems to fit and highlight so many instances of trueness in life that I just can't resist doing it again and again.
Today, on facebook (where else?) someone posted up a link to an article enticingly titled: "26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year." Though I was feeling rather down and teary at the time, since right above and below that link on my newsfeed were posts about the shooting, I clicked on it with some bitterness. Our humanity kinda sucks most of the time, at least according to the news, so I wasn't holding my breath. But I was surprised. Surprised that I was crying, crying because I needed to be reminded that no matter how much evil and suffering there is in this world, there is also the same amount of love and joy, if not more! The 26 examples weren't particularly earthshaking, nothing monumental, but in their everydayness, they became wonderful. It's easy to forget the goodness, the pureness of love when something terrible happens. The worst always seems heavier and has more sticking power in our minds.
In Firefly, humanity itself is at risk. There is evil everywhere and even more aptly, the evil is not in the shape of a menacing outside force, but it is in man. It is man without humanity. Man without love or empathy. Man who is even worse then animal. And that is freaking scary, no doubt about it. So what happened to create man into monster? Ultimately it was the desire and pursuit for happiness which caused the stripping away of goodness. Granted, this is kinda out there and hard to swallow, but nevertheless, the truth of it is undeniable. There is nothing scarier and more evil that a human without empathy or love. We are more monster then any monster can ever dream of being. Last Friday was a clear enough example of that!
Yet the heroes in Firefly, are folks who are simple, (most of them anyway) and who just want to be free. Free to do as they will, and free to love. Yet it seems like everything is against them, and the situation is hopeless. Having empathy just seems to bring more trouble. They pay for every moment of freedom, every action of love. There are no rewards, and no happy ever after, but they continue on. Like arrows shot from a quiver, they fly true at the target. And they prove, again and again, that every little moment of hope, of love, of kindness, is more precious and more powerful than any evil. Freedom lies in acceptance, freedom is truth and freedom is knowing that the things which are considered burdens only make you stronger and faster.
In the middle of hell, there is love, there is hope. Though it makes me weep to see the faces of those incredible teachers whose last acts of love transformed death into life; I cry because I am moved off my rock, I am thrown off my safe perch and forcibly shown that there is no darkness that cannot be pierced by light. It hurts and it makes me ashamed of my own weakness of faith. However, it also gives me hope and courage. Life has grown me up in the past half decade or so, and there are times when I resent that. I naively long for my childhood of innocence and trust, when I knew that "life is good" because I had never experienced life that was not. But I realize that the only way to reclaim my faith and trust now, is not by pretending and ignoring the evil and hardship, it is by accepting the pain, drinking the cup, and still moving forward: flying like an arrow, free and true though perhaps scarred and battered.
When a person does that, regardless of the darkness, that person becomes a guiding beacon for others. Like those teachers, giving the ultimate gift for love, like those folks creating moments of kindness, and like the characters in Firefly, we can choose the road less traveled by: the path that is hard, but the path that shelters our humanity, grows our hearts and souls and transforms the darkness.