As a child, I looked forward to the day after winter solstice. The short freezing winter days invoked a sense of foreboding. I imagined that the increased darkness meant that something bad was going to happen. Simply knowing that the days were growing longer gave me a sense of hope that my life and the world could grow brighter, too.
For many, darkness exploded in the heat of summer when Donald Trump doubled down on racism, misogyny, bigotry, lies, and a nationalism that welcomed the alt-right into the mainstream. The reality that he will be inaugurated as our 45th president on January 20th is not the kind of increased light they were hoping for.
What if those appalled by the rise of Donald Trump have been looking at it in the wrong way? What if contrary to appearances, he really is a harbinger of the light in disguise?
No, I am not suggesting that the man is some kind of savior. He has done a very good job of discounting that possibility. What I am suggesting is as a reaction to the hate he espoused and encouraged, he has created the potential for tens of millions of people to awaken their own inner light, dignity, and power. Rather than live in fear and despair of what might happen under a Trump presidency, people all over this country and the world can say, "Screw this!" and take action to defeat the forces of darkness that have been roused. (The Women's March planned for the day after his inauguration is a great example of taking positive action.)
To counter balance the deep darkness this time of year represents, Christmas,
Hanukkah, and Kwanza are festivals that point the way towards embracing light when darkness feels overwhelming. One of the lessons drawn from Hanukkah is instructive for those of us disheartened by the president elect.
Hanukkah (translated as dedication) is known for the miracle of a small amount of oil that should have lasted one day but lasted 8 days, the amount of days required to produce a new batch of pure oil to light the extinguished flame of the menorah (candelabrum) in the ancient Temple.
One of the rabbis' interpretations of the Hanukkah miracle reminds us of something vital about ourselves when faced with a seemingly impossible situation. They said the true miracle was that the Jews even bothered to light the menorah. Why do it when they knew it would only last one day then the flame would go out again? Because they had faith that by taking a step, by moving forward through taking positive action, it would not be a waste of time. Somehow, against all odds, they knew their action would make a difference for the good.
As daylight begins to increase and we light our holiday lights, let us take heart that by believing in ourselves and the power of our positive actions, we can make these uncertain, chaotic, and challenging times into a path towards increasing truth, justice and prosperity for all.