For the month of February, each writer’s post will begin with the same line, which we’ve borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

All this happened, more or less.

We danced on moonlight and settled scores by imagining things differently. Resisting the urge for revenge, we acted toward forgiveness, with tragedy in the foreground and comedy close behind. We were the peacemakers, leaning into disaster only so we could offer presence instead. A still, soft whisper. A grateful heart. An act of quiet. A protest made up of minutiae and steady prayer.

We tortured relentlessly and brought terror. Torched villages and ravaged lands. Blood in the streets by our own hands, our own swords or guns or pitchforks. We led innocents to the guillotine and burned daughters at the stake. We inquisitioned with full force, a gale of violence driven by tribalism and a thirst for power. We cut down the infidel, cursed the pagan, quieted the heretic. We destroyed and dominated.

We fed the poor and tended to the sick. Long festering wounds were healed—an infected gash, a lonely soul, an uncalibrated expectation. We loved the leper when no one else would and raised the dead. We bandaged blistered feet, seeking grace in a salve and finding it. We found the lost. We resisted darkness by weakness, a subtle storm of justice. The slave was set free and peace preached to those who were far away and to those who were near. We lit fires of mercy that flowed through cities, states, nations. We danced in the streets.

We hurled insults at strange or mocked what we couldn’t understand. We second guessed the motives of those different than us because where could the good come from? We withheld truth and kept secrets, unwilling to test or question what we had been given. We projected our voice and pitched it louder and louder to make sure we were heard, and when we were we never listened to anyone else. We spoke in the tongues of angels but had not love.

All this happened, more or less. What will happen next?

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