How do we prevail in dark times? - Oprah Winfrey’s guidelines | Sunday Observer

How do we prevail in dark times? - Oprah Winfrey’s guidelines

29 May, 2022

As we all know, Oprah Winfrey is an American television personality, actress, and entrepreneur. She is famous for her daily talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, started in 1985. Syndicated nationally in 1986, the program became the highest-rated television talk show in the United States earning several Emmy Awards. As a result, she became one of the richest and most influential women in the United States - her net worth is $ 2.6 billion, according to Forbes, and $ 425 million were donated throughout her career, including over $ 100 million to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Aside from her journalistic career, she also works as a motivator through her articles. Last Sunday (May 22), through her official web site, she gave an urgent message to her fans on how we prevail in dark times. She wrote it in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, US, in which 10 people were killed by a gunman. In the message she pleads to people to come together to counter hate with love. As it is a message very much appeals to the people’s mental turmoil in Sri Lanka at the moment, we thought to present it for you.

Humans are basically good She started the message as below:

“Hello, Everybody

“Just sitting here thinking about, how do we make sense of these times? Quite frankly, I’m having trouble because the world seems like it’s flipped. One of my South African daughter-girls, who’s about to turn 28, asked me on the day that 10 people were massacred in Buffalo, did I still believe that humans are basically good. ‘Yes, I do,’ I said. ‘Because humans aren’t born hating.”

To emphasize her argument, she quotes a South Pacific rhyme:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.

You’ve got to be taught from year to year.

You’ve got to be carefully taught.”


Then she says: “Well, the fact is, we now live in a world where there are just multi avenues, amplified with the World Wide Web, on being taught how to turn vitriol into violence and crimes of hatred. And everybody who says that this isn’t who we are as a country needs to reconsider our reality because it’s happening; it’s here before our very eyes. Deaths to gun violence in a country with more guns than people — the people have to take responsibility for how the guns are used. That’s just plain common sense, which as a voting body of citizens concerned for our own well-being and our neighbors, we used to have that concern, so what has happened to us where the mass shootings just keep coming?”

“We are numbed”

Oprah recounts the gun violence? How much is that theme relevance to us? In fact, before Sri Lanka was freed from the clutches of the LTTE, we, daily, experienced bomb-blasts which took many civilian lives. The abundance of the violence was so much that people were numb to the killings. Though we now enjoy freedom, still we experience violence to some extent: it is not direct violence, but indirect terrorism resulted from the economic crisis. For instance, last week we heard a death of a two-day-old baby. The parents of the baby couldn’t consult a doctor in time because of the shortage of fuel for transport. So, we are still facing violence. Oprah, in her article, talks about people’s numbness towards violence:

“Whether a Baptist church in Charleston or a synagogue in Pittsburgh or a Tops market in Buffalo, the pain and loss, the aftermath of trauma and PTSD, never ends. As we go on with our lives and just wait on the next one, we’re no longer even shocked, because shootings have become the background noise for us. We hear about another tragic event and then we just keep it moving because we live in a country where there have been almost two hundred shootings involving at least four victims shot or killed since January. When four or five people are shot, you barely even hear about it anymore. It doesn’t even penetrate because we’re just so numb to it.”

Darker days ahead

However, Oprah argues that though we overlook those deaths easily, we cannot do that in such a way, because the deaths are people, numbers are humanity:

“…. every number is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mother, somebody’s brother, father, son, and all the speeches that follow about hopes and prayers for the victims’ families seem so futile and weak in the face of what we’re really dealing with. I know there are no simple solutions, because after Newtown, where the babies were shot in their kindergarten classes and nothing happened—outraged people said they were, but no legislation or regulation from Congress to back it up. I knew for sure, sure, sure there’d be darker days ahead, and now, here we are.”

Keep yourself whole

But how do we get rid of this numbness? What measures should we take to counter this daily violence? Oprah’s answer is this:

“Each of us can only do the best we can to fight back the numbness that comes from not being able to even ingest anymore pain — don’t you feel that sometimes? Watching the news, like your brain just shuts down and you can’t even process it? Each of us can only do the best we can in trying to remain centered, remain conscious, offering our love and compassion in ways that can make a difference and contribute to the whole, and that is why your daily spiritual practice is so important. You have to keep yourself whole, even if the rest of the world around you seems to be cracking up.”

Oprah also quotes a song by Stevie Wonder to clarify the measures: “But as a collective consciousness, one person at a time, we have got to know that what Stevie Wonder so brilliantly sang years ago on my favorite album, Songs in the Key of Life, is so urgent today:

Love’s in need of love today...

Hate’s goin’ ’round, breakin’ many hearts

Stop it, please, before it’s gone too far

The force of evil plans

To make you its possession

And it will if we let it

Destroy everybody

We all must take

Precautionary measures

If love and peace you treasure

Then you’ll hear me when I say

That love’s in need of love today”

She winds up her bulletin thanking Stevie Wonder for such a wonderful song. There, she suggests that with love and togetherness can we only overcome the difficulties we face now.