Everything Good Is Here

 Troy Onyango

It can be difficult staying optimistic about things – especially during these times we live in. There are uncountable events happening around that can snuff out any little hope we have. From Palestine to Sudan to the DRC, we are seeing human life being destroyed so easily, so unnecessarily. We are being shown that certain lives hold more meaning, have greater value than others. All around us, stories and videos and poems and songs of heartbreak.

Still, we cannot give up hope. We have to cling on to the dreams of things to come. We have to look forward to a new day, new week, new month, new year. We must. As Baldwin says, “I can’t be a pessimist, because I’m alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I’m forced to be an optimist. I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive.”

Perhaps there is solace in knowing that we are not alone. Perhaps we can find joy in the little pockets of solidarity that we have formed around the issues we care deeply about. Or maybe there is consolation in knowing that even all these terrible events, as all the ones that have taken place in the past, will one day come to an end. We try to find a thread to pull on that will lead us to the light.

All I know is there can be no room for despair or fatigue. To despair is to stop believing, and right now we have to believe in a future of new possibilities. We have to dream, despite our present circumstances, that there is something (a rewards of sorts) at the end of this all. So we trudge on and we look for beauty in all the places we can find it. We put our ears to the earth and listen for the sound of music. We read, memorise and recite poems. We turn to art in an attempt to explain the present times. We find the language, even when it seems impossible, to archive these times. We offer solidarity. We ask for solidarity. We slip our hands into each other’s and walk together, slowly, gently, towards dawn – a new day awaits. 

As artists, we are often called upon in these times to reflect and to archive these times. It is an expectation that requires deliberateness and intention. We owe a duty and we must do it with care. In the words of Toni Morrison: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal.”

Even as we continue showing up for others and dedicating our lives to helping fight for the survival of humanity, I hope we can take time for rest and care. I hope, even as we go into the holiday season, that we can find some joy, that we can still make room for celebration, that we do not let all the vagaries of life around us destroy the cheer of a season that represents hope for many of us.

Gratitude, for everyone doing the work. Solidarity, for everyone facing any form of injustice or oppression. Love, for all.

Happy holidays!

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