Give Me Your Hand for Christmas
This is the time to hold hands. We are down to that minimum grace: to hold hands, tight, one with another, and form a chain of humanity to stand against the losses and challenges our species will face in the coming decades.
Otherwise, these decades are going to be the endgame: the period during which we learn whether the planet will allow us to live after what we have done to her.
My generation of Americans has danced through its history under a virtual veil of glittering, glorious media that helped ensure American hegemony, that bedazzled us and kept us from noticing the ongoing theft of every one of our core human values and liberties (not to mention the substantive wealth of our middle class).
We’d like to teach the world to sing, we said, and then we changed that to say we’d like to buy the world a Coke; but we did neither. Instead, we allowed the corporations to ruthlessly extract fossil fuels and pour carbon into the air. The world remains songless and thirsty, and the climate consequences are blatant, global, and possibly irrevocable. So now, I believe — as do a lot of people a lot smarter than me — that humans will pay a high price in suffering if we do not engage in mass action right away.
But I can’t do anything about that when I am in a state of existential terror, can I? So I have stumbled back to basics. One thing I do — I simply hold people’s hands more.
That’s it. It’s pretty silly, I guess. My mate and I, on the couch: holding hands like kids. My grown daughter and I, shopping: holding hands. I’ll just randomly take the hands of my friends and hold them sometimes. If they draw back, I let go, of course. I have some awareness left; also, my cuticles are rough. (I blame COVID. I have learned you can blame COVID for everything, and I’m doing it.)
But it seems that holding hands is just some kind of… maintenance; some bare minimum of human contact to maintain while the pandemic keeps us in electronic interfaces. I just know we are all running a deficit in human contact, along with our chronic vitamin D deficiencies.
The pandemic has wreaked a cruel and paradoxical havoc on our reality, keeping us isolated just when powerseekers want us most malleable.
I hope you have all realized how fragile a vessel for truth the electronic media have proven to be. We really can no longer trust our eyes; our monitor screens; that video; that sound bite. Plus, we’re morons when it comes to believing things: say it often enough, and we’ll believe it. And media says things often. For truth, we need to just break that media cycle and get back to real shared experience; to human-to-human transmission of information, flawed as that sometimes is.
We need to reclaim the connection with our senses, the firsthand communication with people that we know to be authentic because it is authentic, visceral, and singularly irritating.
We need to hold hands more within our circle of loved ones. Then, we need to extend our hands into our communities. It’s hard to hate someone if you can shake their hand; hold the door for them; help them with their child. It’s easier to spot a lie and to talk through a falsehood if you do it in person, right up close.
So when you say, “Gosh, I can’t wait to get back to normal” — remember that, first, we are all going to come out of isolation with a touch deficit, and second, “normal” was in need of a makeover, too.
We took for granted the ready access to the physical presence of each other.
Some of us were vain or proud or too standoffish, fussing and fidgeting and worrying about how we looked or smelled all the time; refusing to relax into our own bodies, our own selves, our own families; staying as far away from nature as possible.
Some of us were too familiar, touching too aggressively, not honoring each other’s space or boundaries, even harming or abusing, but short of that failing to encounter and engage with one another in meaningful human ways.
All of us, when we emerge, must have a new appreciation and respect for the physical presence and power of each of our bodies. All of us must never again take for granted the fact that we don’t have a body, we are a body.
And then we must hold hands. Share the real world.
And speak truth to power.
Bring your hands to the service of the world
It is past time for the people to speak truth to the powers who are making so many criminal, calamitous mistakes, one after another. For me, the only way to attain authentic, resilient courage to speak that truth is if I can hold tight to the hands of the people I love.
St. Theresa of Avila put it this way — and I can never read this without choking up a little:
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
So what about 2021?
Well, I guess we could all sit around and cuss and discuss and hope and pray about things some more, in 2021, when the vaccines come and the new administration is sworn in, and then fall back into our illusion that everything will be all right. The same way we have always fallen back. Except that maybe now we have run out of places to fall back to.
Or we could remember what it was like to be alone, and remember how we hated it. And this time, we could hold hands, for dear life, and get real.
Because by holding hands, we can hold on to the truth.
And by holding on to the truth, we speak truth to power.
And by speaking truth to power,