I’m writing this to you just before All Souls Day because I feel that’s the right time. I don’t feel qualified to speak for all souls, because after all I am only one, but if you would listen to this one soul, maybe you can consider all of us as well. I’m also aware, before the commenters start coming in, that the point of the day itself is to pray for the souls of the dead, but bear with me here.
God, everyone is scared. I’m not so scared, not as much as a lot of people I know, but everyone is. There are so many things going wrong right now and sometimes, even for someone with the patience of a saint, things can be too much. Since you’re omniscient, you probably know that. But it helps to vocalise this.
We are in the throes of a much-expected second (or third) wave of a global pandemic. People have died from this disease; people are also dying by the second from hunger or diarrhoea or malaria of AIDS, but this disease is killing white people, so it’s getting all the press. It’s also a new and unpredicted threat, so the media are all over it. I’m not one of the groups at risk, being in my 30s and relatively healthy, but a lot of people are, and that is scary.
There is a nasty undercurrent throughout the world – your world – rumbling just beyond the horizon of conscience. There are those who crave, and are grasping for, power, but once in possession of it, seemingly have no idea how to lead. God, you are probably aware of the two people I am talking about here, but there are also those in authoritative positions – bosses, landlords, council people – who have the power but lack the compassion that they should, by all rights, have.
Those in power are not handling things well and they know it. Their institutions are under threat, and rather than backing down or changing their ways, they are becoming more threatening, dictatorial and almost autocratic in their ways. They are trying to retain power through terror, and that is scary too.
God, there are people who think the same way as me, those who are trying to make a difference. I’ve been trying to make the world a better place in the very limited way I can. But, as I said, I am only one soul and I have my own issues too – issues with my health which means I have very little energy, with my body which means I no longer have the use of my left arm, and even my job (which I managed to hold onto; God, you know how many people have lost theirs) is being threatened.
I am losing money and I am losing control. I have had moments recently wherein I feel like I am losing myself. I am adrift, sometimes, because there is nothing to cling to. It is easier to shut down, from the point of view of someone who wants to do good for the world, but ultimately lacks the drive.
Having said all that, God, this isn’t a letter to you bemoaning the entire state of the world, because in all good faith I can’t really do that. I don’t believe it, because I have more faith in humanity than many people who have just read my above words would expect. I’m not a positive person by design, as you know – and I find optimism very difficult, even when there isn’t a global pandemic or dangerous people in charge – but I do have some hope.
Hope is a valuable commodity, God. People are losing hope; they are screaming and crying and dying, and even coming together to protest, but they are beginning to suffer from a lack of hope. The one I love tells me every day how she has lost all hope – everything continues to get worse, she says, and just when you think it can’t, it will, and the world will end soon.
I am more optimistic than she is, God, but when she continuously tells me the same thing, it is difficult to ignore her despair. Occasionally I wish she believed in you, so she could have the outlet that I do, but she does not. Many doubt you are listening, but I feel you are.
I see good people around me every day (and, anyway, I believe everyone is intrinsically good, but I mean, people doing good things). There are people doing good at work, and in the streets and the shops, and on the internet, and all the places I go. Occasionally there are people who are belligerent – the man on the bus who started an argument about young people and discipline, or the lady who shouted at me for wearing a “YES to the EU” badge on election day. But mostly I see people who have their heads down, wanting to get their business done and move on, and those are the people for whom I have my greatest hope.
We have done unspeakable things to the world you designed, but life moves on, and upon those people moving along – even though they are a faceless mass to me – I ask your blessing. Because every single one of them is another soul, as much as I am, and right now all they – we – need to do is wait, and keep moving, and keep hoping, and keep loving, as we are all able to do.
My hope is for the future. People say to me that this won’t pass. But it will. History tells us that things change, and they will change again. We may never reach Utopia, but we can lay the bricks.
My hope is for the future, whether it’s ten minutes from now, or an hour, a day, a month, a year, a decade… whenever. With hope, people can move. With hope, people can change. And with hope, people can realise there is a better world ahead.
It isn’t easy, God.
But it is possible.