March 4, 2016

Why the World Can’t Afford to Sugarcoat Enlightenment.

jacinta lluch valero/ Flickr

The pursuit of enlightenment sounds, well, nice.

But it isn’t.

Enlightenment (= lighting up the darkness) doesn’t mean hiding from what is real or sprinkling fairy dust on a pile of poop.

With the physical newspaper it was hard to overlook the front page. It seemed almost wrong to skip to the Funnies before reading about reality.

In 2016, without the thunk of the morning paper, it’s easy not to click on hard news. It’s easy to ignore what is happening on street corners all over the world.

Without the daily influx of hard news it’s possible to forget that there are Syrian refugees, starving children, toddlers abused by parents and dogs lit on fire. If we are reminded of this, all we have to do is hit delete.

I’m guilty of this. I bake chocolate chip cookies and dip them in milk when the world feels awful. As a child, I covered my eyes and hummed real loud until I un-remembered the abuse I endured.

But the time of hiding from the truth seems to be coming to an end: Even though it can be easy to delete memories, in our techno world it is much harder to hide the evidence. Bill Cosby understands this point well.

Enlightenment means “awareness of the dark.” The dictionary definition has words like knowledge, wisdom, education and learning. Which makes sense if our intention is to “lighten” something.

There has to be a seeing of the darkness to know it is there.

When women began accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault, many of his supporters didn’t want to believe it true—so they deemed it untrue. Because facing the possibility that a man who does good things also drugs and rapes women is hard.

There is violence in all of us. There are wounds beneath our skin that no one can see unless we talk about them. Humans are light and dark. We do both good things and awful acts of subjugation, we create magnificent works of art and destroy temples that were centuries in the making—we are the human spectrum of our existence.

Our world is both dark and light. To “see” is to illuminate what is real, what is both f*ucked up and awesome. Finding the acceptance within us of what is real brings the possibility for change.

A proponent of enlightenment means being conscious, alive and engaged. With awareness, there is no hiding from anything. True awareness is facing the horrific, standing still with what is wrong, bathing and healing the maimed, confronting the destructors, teaching what is harm and remembering and blending what is good.

Our magnificent planet and the societies that reside upon it are at a critical point.

There have been many pivotal moments throughout history. When Hitler was hiding in the darkness, someone brought a flashlight. During the Joseph McCarthy reign, people stood up and opened a window. Rosa Parks wouldn’t give her seat up on the bus. Boston Globe reporters withstood wide-spread criticism to tell the world about priests abusing children.

Bill Cosby is going to trial. After decades of accusations, enough people are willing to consider the evidence of his guilt. It took dozens of women coming forward, multiple times. It took a comic labeling Mr. Cosby a rapist.

Enough people didn’t hit delete. They read, considered and perhaps hit forward. At least now the women who have stories to tell will have a judge and jury to witness the telling.

It is not enough to be the goodness in the world. Being the cupcake means nothing to another cupcake smashed under a boot of oppression. Seeing the darkness for what it is, that is how we change what is harmful in our lives. It is how we navigate the future better than we have in the past.

As humans who intend awareness, let us be the witnesses our world needs.


Relephant Read: 

The Brutal Truth about Enlightenment.


Author: Deb Lecos

Apprentice Editor: Bere Blissenbach / Editor: Renée Picard

Image: jacinta lluch valero/Flickr  

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