Seeing as today is the Winter Solstice, the day with the least amount of sunlight and therefore the most darkness in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought I would reflect on the troubling pattern of society losing it’s fear of the night. Perhaps fear is the wrong word though, so let us say that society has lost its respect for the night.
Back when humans were living in caves and huddled around a fire we feared the night for it was full of predators and dangers. Be it a sabre tooth tiger looking for a meal or a mastodon herd trampling on by.
As society evolved our caves made way for towns with houses and castles with walls, yet we still did not trust the night for dangers still prowled in the enveloping darkness. Wolves and bears and lions and such. But also another predator prowled the night, one that walked upon two legs. The sturdy walls of the castle town the line of demarcation between what was safe and the unknown dangers that laid beyond.
As time marched forward we started to build cities without walls and felt a safety in numbers and street lights would replace fire to allow us to walk unafraid.
But while predators which walked upon 4 legs were driven back by the crowds and the noise and light the predators who walked upon two legs hid in plain sight.
And for a while fear returned of the night.
Yet time passed again, people moved away from the cities into suburbia.
And they feared the night no longer.
It’s an unfortunate tale because it is one that when told in an allegorical sense is the reason why people FEEL safe and forgo actually BEING safe.
The night still holds all kinds of dangers regardless of where you live. Rapists, thieves and murderers did not disappear as our FEELINGS of safety increased. In fact, as we as a society focused more on FEELING safe than BEING safe the predators took advantage of such foolish notions. And the predators aren’t just the rapists and murderers and theives but also those that would prey upon our liberty and move in shadow to do so. Placating us with promises of beating back the night and all the dangers that lie within.
Finally though, we have been beginning to retake the night with fire. Or to be more literal, firearms.
As our society has “evolved” it has often clung to the notion that safety is the concern of someone else. One need look no further than Europe to see a populace who just offers up their fealty for a government who promises to take care of them.
America is the last bastion of freedom in this world and while it is fading fast on many different fronts, so long as we take responsibility for beating back the night, regardless of what form it takes, be it predator, tyranny or apathy we remain free and have the ability to BE safe.
I was re-reading a book of fiction last night that actually dealt with this.
A great demon army would rise from the ground after the sun set and humanity banded together and fought it night after night beating it back with tools and weapons designed exactly for that purpose.
Then one day as dusk was settling and the people were preparing for the attack, the demon army didn’t come. Nor the next night, nor the night after that. In fact after years humanity declared their victory and as is the way of humans they started bickering amongst themselves and forgot about the demons. As the centuries passed the fact that the people ever had to fight demons moved from history to legend to a fairy tale that parents told their children to spook them at night.
The people forgot how to fight, forgot the tools they used to do it, forgot that there ever was a threat to begin with.
And then one night the demons rose again.
That is the danger that America faces. That we so often proclaim that tyranny can never really happen here, that our historians keep distorting the truth and cheapen what the revolution was by trying to tear down the men who led it, that we give up our weapons that ensure or freedom and saftey, and that we are caught so unaware when night falls again upon our shining city on a hill that we lose it before we even have a chance to react.
Night is ever present. For the candle of liberty to continue to shine we must be ever vigilant. We must keep our ability to use fire to beat it back wherever it tries to take root lest we be swallowed by an endless night that shall never see a dawn again.
Just some thoughts on this longest night. Happy Solstice!