Commentary: Komorebi: Let the light in this Thanksgiving

By Dr. Theresa del Tufo

A raging pandemic, an economy in shambles and a volatile racial divide are prima-facie evidence of the maliciousness of life. We have national leaders bumbling their way toward untested and sometimes delusional solutions and, even worse, fanning the flames of conflict to divide and conquer. To top it all, leaders and followers are confused about facts, data and the truth.

Dr. Theresa del Tufo

The guiding moral compass, entrenched in the distant past, has been all but forgotten. “Truth decay” has become the operating transactional template: the increasing blurring of lines between facts and opinions, truth and outright lies. This seems to be the guiding spirit of the day — from fake news and media outlets, to social media tweets, right up to the primal source of misinformation at the federal seat of power and governance.

You lost your job. Your parents are seriously sick with the COVID-19 virus. And you’re feuding with your co-workers and neighbors on who should be president of this country. There is wholesale chaos, hatred and discontent everywhere. How then can I ask you to reflect, to celebrate and be thankful for your fragile and seemingly hopeless life?

Now, all these catastrophic events are not historical anomalies. Humans have experienced all these tragedies before. The bubonic plague, a pandemic that struck Europe and Asia in the 1350s, was responsible for the death of one-third of the world’s population. It caused France and England to declare truce and halt the Hundred Years’ War, destroyed the British feudal system and stopped the Vikings from further exploration of Greenland and North America. Then, there was the 1918-19 flu pandemic that caused the death of an estimated 50 million people worldwide and 675,000 Americans.

Life and death, health and sickness, economic prosperity and downturn are all part and parcel of the cycle of life. It’s the yin yang paradigm that represents all the opposing forces and principles in the universe — an inevitable and eternal cycle of reversal because every principle has the seeds of its opposite embedded in its essence. For example, Politician A is thrilled and deliriously happy because he just won the election. Fast-forward two years from now and he would suffer a devastating defeat, which would make him unhappy and beaten down. All these and more are integral parts of the oneness and unity of life.

As I was writing this article, I took a break by enjoying the view in the back window of my office. I recalled, just barely a month ago, the bright and scintillating rays of sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees in my backyard. The Japanese call this phenomenon “komorebi.”

Komorebi (Photo by Joe del Tufo)

I thought about this emerging light as a precursor of positive events that are now occurring and are primed to occur. There is reasonable hope for a less divided and more unified populace: two promising new vaccines, with close to 95% effectiveness; record numbers of Americans engaged in the democratic process by exercising their right to vote; and our everyday heroes, medical personnel, front line workers and poll workers who continue the good fight. There are reasons to stay positive and be grateful for the forward movement that’s slowly gracing our divided nation. Although there are many problems that remain to be resolved, there are significant changes that we need to celebrate and be thankful for.

A democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires active engagement and action from the body politic. Our experiment in democracy can only survive and thrive if we have an informed and active electorate and leaders who possess the right combination of character and competency.

As a citizen and a resident of this great country, how can you contribute and be an architect of the freedom and liberation that you aspire for?

Beyond the election, try to get involved and engaged in your communities. Try to focus on things you can control and be part of the solution. What are you passionate about, something that gives your life vigor and renewed purpose? For example, I try to carve out valuable time supporting women’s issues, assisting people with disabilities and engaging in lifelong learning working with libraries. Sometimes, with some success; sometimes, not! Find your path and follow your bliss!

The suggested prescriptions to neutralize the present problems are simple and ordinary but tested remedies. They are not high-tech innovations, but common cures and relatively inexpensive.

For example, to stem the rising tide of the COVID-19 virus, we are asked by our leaders to wear masks, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet and frequently wash our hands. We are requested to voluntarily comply to promote the common good, not to deliberately squash our individual freedoms. These steps have been adopted in Asian countries, like South Korea and Japan, with miraculous outcomes. We’re called upon to sacrifice, just a little bit longer. These preventive steps remind me of what my doctor told me: Because of my diet and exercise, I have an enviable cholesterol level, which is typically found among much younger cohorts. Simple steps like a diet rich in vegetables along with walking just a single mile a day are part of the secret sauce. She also noted that drinking a glass of red wine probably helped. And I completely agreed!

Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief of Time magazine, aptly concluded in his recent editorial “Our dueling realities remain. Biden and Harris, and all of us, have much work ahead.” With this awareness in mind and having taken the first step, we deserve to take a little breather. Pause. Reflect. Celebrate. Give thanks!

Dr. Theresa del Tufo is an organizational consultant and an author. Her fifth book, on women and power, will be published by McFarland Publisher in 2021. She has been a resident of Dover, Delaware for more than 50 years.