The Light at the End of the Tunnel

by Leo Finelli
It was about thirty years ago when the wall toppled
and took the Eastern bloc with it.
When it did, fighting broke out at first.
Then things started to settle down. 

There was no more wall.
No more war.
A British scientist had come up with a way
for people all around the world 
to connect to each other quickly and easily
just by clicking buttons on their computers.
A harmonious global community 
no longer felt like a dream.
It felt like it wasn't that far away
from becoming a reality.

The years were ticking. 
We all lived our lives happily, waiting,
for the new age,
the new millennium,
the new dawn of a new world,
where this new world and its people
would be loved and cared for.
We all had this dream.

And when the ball dropped,
whether we were in our living rooms
or our doomsday bunkers
or not yet in this world,
we were hopeful. 

It was the most hopeful year. 
It lasted into the next year, but didn't escape it.
Nine months and eleven days into the next year,
all our hope exploded with the towers.

Yes, we were resilient. 
The spirit that had swept across our world 
as we anticipated the wondrous future 
and harmony of the new age
seemed to come back. 

But then, four years later, 
a massive hurricane destroyed homes and lives.
The suffering was ignored.
Three years after that, the global economy started going down.
Guns started to find their way into the hands of the reckless.
Hope was dying.

Then, one morning about fifteen years
and two months after the fall of the towers,
we all truly felt that hope was dead.
Because of him.
When he tried to build our fear and hate,
he also tried to destroy our hope.

But hope puts up a fight,
in the form of the fearless people,
many of them very young,
who started to stand up.

We started to cycle back.
We were going to take our chance
To put things back on track.
Then, from nowhere,
orders, regulations, advisories
To keep us safe.
"Social distancing," those words that rang 
like they had emerged from a dystopian novel,
now started to run our lives.

Bound in our homes,
we truly had to start standing far apart,
soaking in our despair,
wondering if the sheer sadness and stress of it all 
would kill us and our hopes
before this was over.
As we stand far apart,
with nothing to do but wait,
I wait with the world.

And as I wait with the world,
I remember a song
from the days where we waited
for a bright future,
believing not only that it could happen,
but that it would. 
I don't remember the first time I heard it,
but I'll never forget what I heard.
"When will we put fear aside?
When will we throw away false pride?
Every heart will glow
When love lights up the world.
No need to walk in the dark.
We don't have to stand so far apart.
Every heart will know
When love lights up the world."

Those words were written in a time
when we thought that we would not have 
to stand so far apart ever again.
But that's exactly what we're doing right now.

Yet, even as we struggle to contain 
our microscopic enemy, and to contain
the troubling knowledge of this distance
in our heads, some things still go on.

And in a few months' time,
there will be a chance
to bring hope up off its knees.
By that time, we will probably be able
to rejoice in the bright world together.
Together - a word that we were beginning to think
we would never say again.

And then, as this year becomes the next,
we may well be able to say,
after all we've learned about women not being objects,
and the planet not being a trash can,
and guns being pointless machines of war,
and with the pandemic weakening,
and with ignorance and fear and hate
out of the seat in which they became so powerful,
we may say, like we did almost thirty years before,
that it is actually going to happen.
Nations are going to join 
to be a better world.

Of course, way back when,
we could have been pessimistic
and maintained that it was still far-fetched
for such a dream to become reality.
But we didn't,
because we had music that made us
able to feel the reality of world harmony.
And we need to hear that music again.

Because, even as we overcome 
everything that came over us,
the flame of hope will remain dead
until it is empowered to ignite again.

We're going to get through this.
We're going to dance in the sunshine
and enjoy life together again. 
We're going to feel hopeful and inspired again.
We're going to believe in world harmony as a reality again.

Every heart will know, the song said,
when love lights up the world.
And now I know when 
love will light up the world.
Very soon.
Realistically soon.

And when it does, I hope you'll be there,
and I hope you'll have a song for us.

CLOSING QUESTION (Leave your answers in the comments)

Do you understand the point that this poem is trying to make?

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  1. This is powerful - thanks for sharing with all of us! As humans we are all capable of the most despicable acts, but we are also capable of great love and kindness. It is not just hope - it is real! Let's just hope that we lean on the side of love and kindness.

    This quote from the movie, Love Actually, seems fitting here:

    "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge—they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."


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