Archive for February 17th, 2023

out of darkness

9921042 Dispersing Darkness sm

Dispersing Darkness– At the Principle Gallery

Man must have light. He must live in the fierce full constant glare of light, where all shadow will be defined and sharp and unique and personal: the shadow of his own singular rectitude or baseness. All human evils have to come out of obscurity and darkness, where there is nothing to dog man constantly with the shape of his own deformity.

–William Faulkner, The Mansion (1959)

I read yesterday that newly elected Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania had entered a hospital to be treated for clinical depression. It reported that he had suffered from this for much of his life.. I am sure that the great stress inflicted on him by the stroke he suffered during his campaign played a big part in this latest bout with his affliction.

I also wouldn’t be surprised that his time in the current DC political climate might have played a role as well. While the potential for meaningful progress and change that is always near at hand there might be inspiring, there is an abundance of the obscurity and darkness to which Faulkner alluded in the excerpt above.

To peer firsthand into the opaque shadows of the darkness there, to see the levers of government manipulated by the force of money and power might well be disillusioning for someone with ideals and ethics, someone dedicated to elevating those with neither money nor power. There’s a darkness there of the quality that, like Faulkner also points out, keeps those in it from seeing the shadow of their own deformity, their own afflictions. It’s a darkness that spawns the rampant shamelessness and selfishness we are seeing now.

I hope that the Senator moves past his darkness. Being the forthright speaker he is, my other hope is that he might make mental health a cause he can champion. It might be a great opportunity to bring attention to a subject, mental health, that is often forced into the background, especially by those in politics, where it is usually portrayed as a sign of weakness or instability. A flaw to be exploited and stigmatized.

Maybe he can shine a light into the darkness.

As someone who has struggled with depression for much of my life, I would love to see a greater safety net for the many who struggle with mental health issues.

And it is many.

Who doesn’t have a family member or friend who has struggled and suffered? Or who struggles now and simply suffers, accepting it as the normal state of being? I know that’s how it was for me in the early part of my life. Many people in my youth scoffed at the word depression even though, looking back now, their own actions and behaviors gave all the indications of that condition. They just accepted the behaviors from it –alcoholism, addictions, suicides, etc.– as being the normal state of being.

With all the years of stigmatization, it’s still a hard thing to talk about. But like any problem, it can’t be improved on until it is named and confronted. I know this well. My life would be vastly different– if I still were even alive– if I hadn’t become aware that darkness in which I was struggling was not the normal state of being. It’s an important subject in this and every other country. It deserves to be moved away from the darkness, where you can see the shadow it casts on our lives in the brightest of light.

I’ve said a lot more than I intended when I started this morning. Maybe too much. Like I said, there is still that stigma present. But it is out there in the light and that can be a good thing. I have work to get to– the work that takes away a lot of my darkness– so we’ll have to talk about this later.

Kind of the same subject, here’s one of my favorites, Killing the Blues, written by Rowland Salley and performed by the late John Prine.

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