Over the next few days, you will undoubtedly read about the Hindu festival of Diwali, which signifies the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. The myth has different characters depending on where in India, or the world, you’re from: Rama, Sita, and Lakshman vs. the demon Ravana; Lord Krishna vs. the demon Narakasura; Lord Vishnu vs. the demon King Bali.
Democracy vs. Donald Trump and complicit members of the Republican Party. Admittedly, this battle is still being fought, and even if democracy wins this time, and light pushes out the darkness, battles for good are fought over and over again. In lore and in life, good edges out evil, and then evil edges out good. The lines get blurry. And the battle begins again.
We celebrate Diwali every year because there is no final triumph. Good cannot eliminate evil, only transform or temper it, because neither good nor evil—light nor darkness—exists without the other. Every year we’re reminded to use our most precious resources—time, energy, concentration, and love—to transform suffering in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our country.
We are, each of us, the light and the darkness, and our greatest battle is not with the demons outside but with the demons within. Much of Hindu mythology is about transforming our own ignorance. If we remake the Ravana within, we can shine more light for ourselves and even our political opponents. We do not need to demonize each other to fight demons.
We need a little Diwali year-round. There are daily decisions that can bring more light: showing gratitude and showering people with your own brand of blessings; bringing righteous anger and commitment to justice in a given moment (instead of impotent rage); making space for BIPOC voices in our lives and workplaces; supporting our country by supporting women of color. And dancing with joy—and laughing—even when you feel like lying down in silence.
The diyas that led the exiled son, Rama, to his rightful throne in Ayodhya stretched far from the city and could be seen from high above. Every flame upon a wick of cotton in an oil lamp helped pierce the darkness and allowed Rama to find his way home.
You may not have a throne, and you may not run a city, state, or country, but you may run something—like the Recharge column at Mother Jones, and like my colleague who does, you are going to fight to protect that diya and illuminate the path forward no matter what comes. And you do. And the transformation toward good continues. Thank you, Daniel King.
Happy Diwali to you all. May you find the light in your lives, and may you be a source of light to others.
—Venu Gupta is Mother Jones’ Midwest regional development director. Share your stories of Diwali with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.