I started my new year in the best way possible.
First, I got to see my favorite episode of Twilight Zone. It’s called “the Shelter.” If you haven’t seen it, find it. Watch it.
To summarize without giving too much away, a group of neighbors celebrate a birthday when the festivities are interrupted by an announcement that nuclear missiles may be on their way. Turns out, only one of the members of this group of friends built a shelter for his family, not large enough for more than three people. As his neighbors beg to be included in the shelter, we bear witness to multiple different reactions to panic.
It ends with an amazing quote:
Jerry: I told you we’d pay for the damages, Bill.
Bill: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we’re really like when we’re normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on staying alive that they’d claw their neighbors to death just for the privilege. We were spared a bomb tonight, but I wonder if we weren’t destroyed even without it.
I’ve always loved this episode and this closing note. It’s a reminder that fear is as dangerous as any of the actual things to be feared. That remaining prepared and resolute can preserve anything, can protect us from any threat. That giving in to fear does no one any good and in fact does more harm.
Shortly after watching this episode, I dove in to a comic I had purchased days before. This comic is a compilation book called “Love is Love” and was a charity book done by IDW and DC to raise money for the victims of the Pulse shooting last year.
If you haven’t read it, do so. Find it online (i believe it’s selling for about $20 these days) or wait for the 2nd print to come out in a few weeks (don’t have a comic book shop, email me. I’ll make sure you get one of the second prints. We’ll work something out.)
Reading through this, seeing all the different perspectives on the topics of violence, guns, LGBTQ community support, racism, everything pertinent in our country at the turn of this year was breathtaking. I found myself in tears over multiple one-page comics throughout the book. I laughed, I cried. It was a rewarding experience.
What these two experiences did for me as we roll out of one of the roughest years I can remember is provide me with a mindset, a self-imposed mental post-it for me to constantly refer to for the rest of the year: that it is actively and together that we prevent fear from winning. I know I’ve written about this before way back during election time, but I think it’s good to enter into the year understanding that having something to fight against or having an uphill struggle or just generally wanting things to be better doesn’t have to inherently be draped in the dark clouds of negativity. People coming together, people supporting one another, people speaking their minds and their passions and their beliefs. All these things are positive things. They are enriching experiences.
Too many people responded to my “Happy New Year” with “hope it’s better than the last one” and a sigh. So, let’s do that. Let’s make it better. Steel ourselves against fear and hate and be ready to react. Build our shelters into ourselves and our families and our friends and our outreach groups, and when the missiles fly, we won’t claw or shout or cry.
We’ll survive. Damage free.
Happy New Year.
(also, I swear more frequent and less preachy posts. Just been my main focus since November)