Adding to the sum of light

I grew up thinking our world was on its way to being like the original Star Trek series, with everyone trying to do the right thing and make the galaxy a better place. That show wasn’t perfect, of course. I remember being maybe 8 and firmly saying “boldly go where no one has gone before,” since even at that age I recognized some of the flaws in the show. You could certainly argue, however, that for a television series that launched in 1966, it was ahead of its time. Gene Roddenberry, the producer, certainly did his best to incorporate themes of sexism, racism, and even the Vietnam war (here’s an article from 1968 where he mentions this). My bringing this up is not to focus on what the show didn’t do, but what it did do. Sure, Kirk would occasionally violate the prime directive, especially if an attractive woman was involved. 🙂 But an underlying theme of ethics, and doing the right thing, carried through the show.

I’ve since learned that the world is not barreling toward utopia after all. Being a determined optimist, however, I still have hope that we’ll someday get to a world where we all do our darnedest to do the right thing all the time. The recent world excitement has been horrifying, depressing, and, at the same time, heartening. I would much, much rather see people peacefully protest because they care about the issues, not because they care about the issues and got fired up by the catalyst of the brutal and cruel murder of George Floyd. But while this event was horrific, it was amazing to watch how people across the U.S. and around the world joined together. It’s been even more moving to see how many people feel compelled to protest, even though they know this puts them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, because standing up is the right thing to do.

I am grateful that the two writing projects I’ve been promoting recently both contribute to charity. The proceeds from The Golden Door all go to the ACLU and Doctors Without Borders. The idea for this collection came from watching what was going on at the southern border of the U.S. While the awful way some of the people seeking asylum has been less in the news lately, it’s still happening. Some of the children who were separated from their families at the border will almost certainly never see their parents again, and the fact that this happened at all is so incredibly wrong. This anthology has a broader focus than just U.S. immigration, as I wanted people to think about the topic of immigration in a larger sense. It includes stories like Tonya D. Price’s “Spy in the Sky,” which is set during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “Ke’s Symphony,” by Lesley L. Smith, which is about beings from one planet who seek refuge on another, as well as stories like Hedi Framm-Anton’s “La Despedida,” which is about a woman from Honduras who goes to the U.S. because she can’t make enough money at home to pay the fees the local gang demands.

The other charity project I’m involved with right now is the Young Adult Charity MegaBundle, which is only available for a few more days. Half of all the proceeds for this bundle of 28 books (yes, there are really 28 books!) go to Mighty Writers, a non-profit organization which offers free writing workshops to children to help them learn to think and write with clarity. As part of Mighty Writers’ efforts curing the pandemic, they are also delivering food to families in need.

There’s a line from the movie The Year of Living Dangerously that I think of quite often: Add your light to the sum of light. It’s paraphrased from something Tolstoy wrote. In the movie, it goes like this:

Well, I support the view that you just don’t think about the major issues. You do whatever you can about the misery that’s in front of you. Add your light to the sum of light.

The two charity projects I’m involved with won’t change the world. One person attending one protest won’t either. But everything adds up, as we’ve seen with the recent protests about racial justice, both in the U.S. and across the world. Let’s all work together to make the world a better place.

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