I’ve known this for a long time, but recently I’ve been reminded of it. I’m not referring to the nighttime’s darkness associated with zombies or vampires, although I am glad that with two cats as opposed to two dogs, I don’t have to make forays outside late at night. Dogs have to be walked, in daylight and darkness, no matter the weather.
Now and then we see foxes in our neighborhood. These stealthily quick little animals don’t get along well with our neighbors’ small dogs. Our neighbors have convinced me how hard it is to referee a fight between a dog and a fox, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this situation would bring me anxiety, if not outright fear of being outside in the dark.
For the record, I’m also afraid of cancer, a re-occurrence of kidney stones, the thought of being force-fed lima beans, and with the exception of Pooh and Paddington, a close encounter with a bear. Don’t laugh. This past June there was a bear sighting two and a half miles from our house. That’s a short commute for the average bear. I know this because I’ve Googled “bears in Pennsylvania.”
Right now, Dear Readers, my longstanding fear of the “dark” refers to the darkness that’s descended upon the United States. This darkness crept in shrouded in the resentment, fear, and anger that emboldened the voices of soulless ghouls intent upon goose-stepping us back to the past. The past hasn’t always been a comfy place in which to exist, especially for people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Banning books, enacting legislation that forbids teachers to answer their students’ questions about personal identity and sexuality, refusing to include curricular material about America’s history of enslavement and racism, enabling the rebirth of voter suppression and the rightness of white male supremacy, and erasing a woman’s right to make reproduction decisions have sucked us into a perilous Way-Back machine.
Call these retrograde policies an evil time-warp, a pit of quicksand, a cult-epidemic, or a pacifier for under or maldeveloped minds. Above all, please call this movement toward darkness wrong, dangerously so.
The darkness continues to manifest itself as we learn about immigrant people being told to board a bus or an airplane whose destination is secret, but promises to bring employment, food and housing. Just get on board. This scenario is an ugly reminder of the many train cars filled with the Jewish, gay, or non-Aryan men, women and children who were transported to the work/death camps run by the Nazis during World War II. All they had to do was get on board.
Today’s “relocation trips” will continue until they’re proved to be illegal. Or… until we start ignoring the televised scenes and become desensitized to the cruelty inherent in being flown to an unknown destination and summarily left to fend for oneself. We’ll stop caring about people who are victimized. We’ll become numb to the emotional pain of those who are no more than pawns in a political game called, “I should be elected because I’m meaner than all the other MAGA politicians.”
The darkness is closing in. Who will be the next victims? Which demographic group has already been selected for erasure? In what form will that erasure take place?
These are the questions that make me most afraid of the dark, Dear Readers. These are the questions that impel me to make my plans to vote in November. These are the questions that increase my appreciation of the good moments of life.
Speaking of which… This morning we went to a nearby elementary school to see our first-grade neighbor play soccer. We watched a constant jumble of little legs and feet struggling to make contact with the ball. We heard parents and grandparents cheering from the sidelines as their daughters/granddaughters strained to separate the parental voices from those of their directive-yelling coaches. Spontaneous, un-whistled time-outs occurred whenever one of the players paused to grab the top of her shin-guards and pull them back into place… an equipment adjustment. As what seemed like the sixth (?) quarter began, we spied an older child tackle and then wrestle with a half-torn tree limb behind one of the goals. He was attempting to sever it from the tree. We believe the limb won.
At the end of the match everyone was smiling. Neither team bore the mantle of loser because goals weren’t counted, only the rules of fair play and healthy competition. That way, every team is/was a winning team.
The big win for me was returning home re-animated by the possibility of staving off the frightening darkness by reiterating what is truthful and by casting my votes for the enlightened ones, the pro-democracy candidates.
©Renée Bess 2022
Renée Bess writes fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Her most recent book, Between a Rock and a Soft Place, as well as her six other books can be purchased at: http://www.bellabooks.com, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and http://www.kobobooks.com. For more information, visit http://www.reneebess.com