Or so we all hope. We keep that hope alive by continuing to do what we do, whether it is writing or teaching or curing illness; whether it is driving a bus or building a house or raising funds for a foundation for kids with special needs – we keep on doing what we do because there is no other choice. And because of that human drive to press onward, to do whatever needs to be done, to care for the children and the sick and the elderly, in spite of our disastrous 2016, all around the world, great things are happening. And they will continue to happen.
So if thoughts of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte and the champions of Brexit are troubling you, if it bothers you that everywhere, strong men are on the rise and the world seems to be turning away from the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, if you think welcoming the stranger and supporting the afflicted are not just duties but the only sane way forward, you could do worse than to channel your unease into support for people and institutions that are doing just that.
Wislawa Szymborska’s poem Under A Small Star contains this brilliant insight: “My apologies to large questions for small replies.” Sometimes the answers are so small we don’t consider them. Sometimes the solutions are so ordinary, so commonplace, we dismiss them as too easy, not complex enough.
The rise of Fascism is a mighty problem and we can be forgiven for feeling it is too large to even fathom, let alone do anything about.
And yet, we can do something. The solution is political resistance, yes, and organising for social change in our own neighbourhoods and towns. But it is also to actively engage in what we want to see more of, what we believe in, what we believe the world should be doing.
Caring for vulnerable children, giving them a chance to achieve their potential, making this world an inclusive, welcoming place where differences are accepted and nurtured and celebrated – this is one way to defeat the forces of intolerance, exclusion and despair.
There are so many more. I’ve found mine. I’m begging you: if you haven’t found yours yet, get out there and have a look around.
Break the wall. Make a circle. Welcome the world. Small replies.