All my life, I’ve believed that no matter how dark this world gets, there’s light behind that darkness, light that always shines through in the end.
This belief has been fundamental to my writing, to the sometimes-dark stories I tell and to all the stories I tell. Terrible things happen. But light — something within humanity that generates light-finds ways to fight that darkness.
This belief has been fundamental to my life, too, helping me see my way through the challenges of childhood — bullying by my peers, growing up in a home with a share of love but also a share of chaos and yelling and strife.
Things might look dark, but no darkness is absolute. Light finds a way through, one way or another. For so many years, I believed that. I was never sure where my belief came from: The stories I raised myself on? God? Some mix of these things or some other thing entirely? Whatever the source, I’d always been grateful for this conviction, always known it for the gift it was.
Until the pandemic — and the years leading up to the pandemic, too — challenged all that.
Not because of the virus itself. Because of the many people — not just outwardly problematic people, not just actively hateful people, but more people than not out of all people — who’ve decided that in the face of the virus, they’re just not up for caring about each other anymore. At least not when it comes to slowing the spread of a contagious disease that even now kills thousands of people a day and disables a great many more.
Not if they have to do it for more than a handful of months. Not if they have to be inconvenienced or change habits or rethink how they live and socialize over the long term.
Not if they have to make real sacrifices.
Some people are out and out vicious about their lack of care for one another, bursting into hateful screaming and abuse and occasionally even violence when asked to do something as simple as put on a mask. A great many more people are merely indifferent, though, and in many ways I think this is worse. These are the people who shrug and say if mitigation measures like masking and testing and contact tracing are no longer required, they just won’t go to the trouble. The people who go with the flow and wear masks and get vaccinated and avoid indoor dining when other people are doing it, but when other people stop, they stop too. The people who say they care, but also that they miss…