This morning I couldn’t sleep. I woke up at 4:30 and finally gave up trying to sleep sometime after 5:00. It might be the election keeping me awake. It might be one of a hundred other things that I’d like to control, but can’t. It had to do something with the backwash of the election, the great sense of loss and bewilderment I am feeling, so I wrote about it.
In the process, I wanted to use the image of the mirrors used by police, psychiatrists, and researchers, to observe subjects of suspicion or curiosity. But I didn’t know if they were called one-way mirrors or two-way mirrors. After I wrote the following piece, I googled it and found out that these mirrors are referred to as both one-way and two-way, which is interesting, but it is the discription of how the mirrors work which makes the image of them even more appropriate to what I am grappling with in my writing this morning.
A two-way/one-way take-your-pick mirror works because it is both transparent and opaque depending upon which side of the mirror you are on in relationship to light. If you are standing in the dark, the glass is transparent and you see that which the light is shining on. If you are the observed, all you see is your own reflection. But I think that it is also true that when we are standing in the dark watching what is standing in the light, that we can really only see our own reflections. We think we are observing others, but we only recognize what we already know, we only believe what we already believe.
“Light always passes equally in both directions. However, when one side is brightly lit and the other kept dark, the darker side becomes difficult to see from the brightly lit side because it is masked by the much brighter reflection of the lit side.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-way_mirror
Here we are on the eve of an election and it doesn’t matter which side of the mirror we think we are on, there’s not much doubt we are the subjects.
Do not think for a moment they are not kings these men, for certainly they are mostly men, who wield power and crave more power, whose wealth has brought us all to our knees before them. Their power lies in what they can buy and how they can manipulate us, turn us against one another.
I don’t believe they really care about religion, race, gender, or ethnicity. They care about whether or not they can get us to squabble amongst ourselves, to hate and distrust each other. It is a two-way mirror they hold up to us, so that we see only ourselves and the shadows of ourselves while they watch through the window to make sure that we are still dancing at the ends of their strings.
What masters they are at it. They have extinguished the fourth estate. The press, the news media is no longer free. It does the bidding of the oligarchs. It shows us what they want us to see and hides everything else behind an avalanche of lies. They strike us where our fear lives. So that we all feel like we have never lived in more dangerous times, that we are personally facing imminent doom.
Don’t tell me there is not a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, a fear that when you wake on Wednesday morning, you will no longer harbor any illusion that you live in a free country. No matter which political party you belong to, no matter which candidate you intend to vote for, you are desperately afraid of the other candidate.
It is that fear we have to come to terms with, that we have to overcome. I keep coming back to the base line: I love my family, each and every one of them. Right now, standing on the opposite side of the political divide, I don’t know if that is enough. How many times in the history of this world have familial ties been broken by the kindling and stirring up of fear by people whose interests are served by it?
What they hold out before us to our wondering eyes is the light of television screens and of consumption, the distracting glitter all around us. All these things we are meant to believe will brighten our lives and fulfill us. So we run after the money, we buy the car, we buy clothes, and toys, the latest things which we will throw away in a year’s time when they lose their shine.
The thing is, no matter how much we buy or what we sacrifice to them, no matter if we sacrifice our ability to think, to make reasoned choices, no matter if we sacrifice the ones we love or the ability to love, it will never be enough. We will not be made safe by sacrifices which kill the best part of us. We will become prisoners of fear and the hate we grow in an attempt overcome it. Hate has never overcome fear. Hate is fear’s child.
We must nurture the courage to love instead, regardless of the light and the shadows and who is watching us from the darkness. The nature of love is that it pours out of us, not into us. The source of it is endless. It may never overcome our enemies. I don’t know if there is any truth to the idea that love conquers all. I don’t know what conquering has to do with love and whether it would be good to conquer whatever all is, but I do know that love transforms. And maybe we have to be willing to step away from the glitter and stand in the darkness so that we can see who is on the other side of the mirror also standing in darkness.