Searching for the light

Ángel Marroquín

One of the most challenging issues today is to make sense of what is happening around us. Without all-encompassing ideologies, without the power of religion or the promise of a social revolution in sight, we are faced with our worst nightmare: neo-fascism and the far-right gaining ground with fake news and post-truth. “The desert grows,” said the sad philosopher. Today we look at each other, and we understand what he meant.

Because none of us has any doubt about the erosion in which we live when we think about the figures that the pandemic has thrown out to our face: an increase in the number of children living on the streets, an increase in drug, alcohol and violent pornography consumption, an increase in suicides and domestic violence, and so forth.

While these figures have not yet shifted, the market promotes rampant consumerism and celebrity lifestyle to make the economy grow. Such is like a patient with gastric cancer trying to heal himself by eating hamburgers nonstop.

But not everything is lost; altruism has not diminished. For instance, we still see thousands of people trying to make values such as solidarity, fraternity, equality or freedom come true in countries like Afghanistan, Chile, Hong Kong or Belarus. Sadly, in these countries, those fighting for better lives are shot by the police, imprisoned in isolated prisons, or simply disappear without leaving a trace.

The horror of these situations is there. However, it seems as if nobody cares enough, primarily because of the avalanche of irrelevant information that submerges these tragedies and makes them all the same: pieces of something we can barely distinguish in the informational ocean that moves incessantly—traces of information that nobody even can remember clearly. And it is in this repetition of triviality seasoned with tragedies that we find the most dangerous manifestations of the world today: the lack of meaning. In a world in which the truth is manipulated according to the convenience of the richest, the powerful and their stakeholders, the lines between good and evil are erased: no one can play the role of truth. We all appear to be guilty until proven otherwise.

Parents, teachers, tutors and self-help gurus and political leaders are questioned because of their inability to embody the good they proclaim or teach; their inability to express the difference between, for example, courage and cowardice (even less to show their children, students or guides how a brave person behaves).

On the other hand, there are authorities interested in manipulating those that seek certainties. Those are the fascists of the right and the left. They are easily recognized because they offer shortcuts, immediate solutions and speak using great words. In short, we all know them, which does not make them less voted or irrelevant in each election!

Faced with this current dark situation, I want to share a story with you:

A teacher close to his death decides to make this moment the last act of teaching for his two disciples. So the old master wakes up his two young students at midnight, lights a torch and leads them into the middle of a thick forest. Once there, the old master extinguishes the torch and remains silent. Then the youngest of the disciples asks him:

Are you going to leave us alone here in the middle of this darkness?
Then the old man responds: “No, I am not going to leave you here in the dark”… “I am going to leave you searching for the light.”

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