There's been a lot that's happened this past year that has confused me about my core beliefs. I've raged, been angry, felt deadened, numb, or like I would die of pain at alternate times. At the same time, I've also been deeply glad, deeply appreciative and deeply moved.
What I have realized is that I believe in the good.
I believe in the good. In the light. In fairy tales. Magic charms. Dancing, singing, beauty, music. Passion. Love. Sparkles and glitter and ennervating spirituality. Disco lights at the roller skating rink. Ice skating sleds. Tiaras. I believe in all these things very deeply. What is more, I believe that people are innately good. I believe that darkness obscures the goodness in people and causes them to act in ways that don't become them, ways that are not part of their true nature.
I know that such a belief is thought of as old-fashioned, out-dated, out-moded or naive. But I believe that I have the right to such a belief. Aviva Miretzky died on the basketball court when she was in 8th grade. Tanielle Miller died of meningitis. Chaya Mitchell died of a brain tumor. My grandfather died just a few days before my 14th birthday. This year, my grandmother died. I watched her chest rise and heave in the hospital as I wished her goodbye and a safe journey, not just from me but from all my family members. I have personally witnessed the cruelty of children toward one another. I have seen the ways in which adults, scared and paralyzed by fear, hide behind cowardly lies and accusations. I have watched their eyes slide away because they could not meet mine, and have seen others stare me down, daring me to do something about it. I have seen administrators in a panic, unsure of how to control a wayward child. One of the people I love best in the world was abused by her husband. As for emotional pain, try to conceive of what it means to be a transsexual in an Orthodox Jewish world, and then you'll have a handle on it. I've seen families where the parents scream at one another in front of the children. I've seen other families where they put on a facade. Every kind of suffering, the backdrop to humanity, has appeared in some form to me, as it does to all of us who walk through this life. And despite all this, I believe in the good. Or perhaps, what I truly believe is that those who inflict pain on others are alienated from their true selves.
This is not them. Their true selves are themselves in pain, wracked by guilt, fear, anger or hatred. They act out of cowardice as opposed to bravery. There is something inside them that begs to be discovered. There is a light, that untouched part of them that belongs to God. I may not always see it but I believe it is there. Sometimes it has been covered over so completely that only death may atone. But it exists. It remains.
I have learned a lot about forgiveness this year. There is a somewhat trite saying that you have to forgive in order to be happy yourself. That if you bear a grudge, it eats away at you rather than those you hate. I don't know if that is true for everyone. But I have discovered that as we are in need of forgiveness, as I am in need of forgiveness, so are others. Because people sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes they allow their goodness to be covered up by darkness for a little while. Or as our Sages put it, people do not sin except when a spirit of foolishness enters them. They regret it afterwards, but it is hard to come clean. It is a matter of losing face. Of being embarrassed. Of feeling lower than others. It is hard to do.
But oh, it's so worth it!
I know that I do not always react to others in a befitting manner. Sometimes I do things that I ought not. I say things I should not. Passion rules reason is Wizard's First Rule and it is very true by me. When I am ruled by emotion, I act in ways that I should not. So I apologize. I try to be better. And as I appreciate that I am forgiven, I learn that I can try to forgive as well. That's not an easy process. And it's not always going to work. But it is imperative to try.
Because I believe in the good. I believe people are good. I believe their wickedness is only ever a crust, a shell, a covering, behind which burns an enduring and all-consuming light. I want to find a way to discover the light, reveal it, allow it to shine through. I feel most frustrated when I fail in that task. But the fact remains that I believe. I believe in people. I believe in their goodness. I believe in hope, and that there is hope for everyone. Sometimes I do not think I am the right person to uncover that person's hidden light, but I believe that there is someone in the world who can do it.
I think it is a choice we make, whether to believe in magic or not. And I believe in magic. Despite our past, our history, and the darkness that veils many of us at one time or another, I still believe.
And I am not ashamed.
It is perceived as delusional, unrealistic, impossible, ridiculous and childish to hold to such a belief. The world does not like it. That is fine with me. Because the fact remains that I see the little flames burning in the hearts of all the people in the world, whereas those who doubt see nothing but charred coal, blackened to a crisp, and fail to notice the diamond's gleam.