I don’t like to write about The Bad in life. I mean, I write about it because it helps me deal with it, but, like many writers I follow, I largely keep the dark stuff to myself. The news, the internet, the radio, it’s all full of The Bad right now, full to bursting. You don’t need my spin on it. I prefer to bring levity, because life feels heavy enough.
However, as I write this, my levity gauge is on E. I’m fresh out of laughs. How can I chuckle when every day brings a new senseless tragedy? When I can only wonder if the flags will ever wave at full-mast again?
The plights of our world are lighting the backs of my eyelids at night like a bat signal, a call of duty. Because in these times of strife, division, and senseless attacks at our doorstep, adulting and parenting are certainly more important than ever. It is our crucial job to empower ourselves and our children to be different! To love instead of hate. The pressure to do this task well can get to a person. It certainly gets to me.
I started writing again to cheer myself up. To reassure myself that The Good exists everywhere, even when it feels like it bought itself a sarong and a one way ticket to somewhere tropical, never to return. I have made it my job to search out The Good and write about it. To say, “Look, everybody, here’s The Good! She was wearing an outfit with the same pattern as her wallpaper so she was difficult to see, but hey, I found her for you!”
Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping.’ I love his version of seeking levity, of finding The Good in The Bad. Abraham Lincoln once told constituents who, burdened by the toll of the Civil War, expressed frustration when they saw him laughing, “I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all…”
Now is the hour when we must don our house slippers and cardigan and look for the helpers. Let’s, all of us, put on our top hats and laugh as hard as we cry. We must find The Good. We must lift our chins and press forward. I am officially putting down my chips and wiping my hands on my pants. People, there is work to be done!
In a perfect world, we, all of us humans, could disagree on many, many things and still walk together, in solidarity, holding hands, checking our hate at the door. And the guy working at the hate check? He would be really irresponsible and think, Screw this job, and storm away to play Pokemon Go, leaving all the hate in the world completely unattended.
Suddenly, an abominable beast would appear (sidebar—abominable is the word I misspelled in the 5th grade spelling bee and I JUST SLAYED IT). How abominable is this beast? Well, you know the stench of a teenage boy’s football uniform after two hours of grueling summer practice? Tie that uniform in a plastic bag with a dozen rotten eggs and leave it in the sun for a week. Then open it and take a whiff. The abominable beast smells worse than that.
This Hate Monster is devoid of hair and an unfortunate hue of pink, a lot like Mr. Bigglesworth, except bigger. And slimier. Pus leaks from his every orifice. He is capital G GROSS! And he adores the flavor of hate! As fast as he can, he gobbles all the hate up, every last drop. Let’s not discuss the burp that follows. Next, he flaps his scrawny, scabby wings and takes flight. Turns out he’s an amazing flyer, because even bad guys are excellent at something. He soars super high. But then, because he slept through his Greek mythology class, he gets cocky, flies too close to the sun, and incinerates himself!
Let’s pretend the Hate Monster is gone now and we are finally free to move forward in acceptance and tolerance, in peace but not harmony, because harmony isn’t realistic, even in a make-believe scenario, since we will never agree on ever so many things. But we will refuse to let that matter. We’re all so unique, so strong in our own special ways. Let’s agree to hug our helpers, no matter what they stand for, what they look like, or what they believe in. Let’s make the world ring with laughter as we rejoice in our differences and reward all people for their goodness. Our children need to witness us changing our words from hate to love, and thus, changing our world from hate-filled to love-filled. This part is real. We can do this.