Opinion: Limbo

Courtesy photo

October 19, 2023 By Diane DeNapoli

After trying my best to process the news of the horrors unfolding in the Middle East, the ongoing war in Ukraine and the slow boiling turmoil in America I feel as though I am living in Dante’s First Circle of Hell, Limbo.

In the poem Inferno by Dante, he describes the First Circle of Hell as “a hemisphere of dark”. This part of Hell was reserved for
those who were not baptized and therefore could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is distinctly different from the other Circles of Hell and is described as a quiet landscape despite the number of souls aimlessly wandering about.

Simply put, those who are in Dante’s Limbo are trapped in a circumstance that they cannot control either due to when or where they were born. Those who dwell in Dante’s Limbo are spared the depravity of other parts of Hell, but they are powerless to improve their circumstances.

How as a modern American citizen, and one who was raised to be civilly engaged, can I resign to simply watch as the world seems to spin on the brink of total chaos? As a mother I feel an almost primitive fury when I see babies burned to death or beheaded. I am sickened as a hospitals is bombed while woman are trying to give birth without medication, water, or power. Now the warring sides state “it wasn’t me” yet these statements do not bring back the hundreds who are dead.

In our own country I feel like we are preparing for the next Presidential Election like we would for a significant hurricane. Stock up, hunker down and pray it doesn’t hit as badly as the news predicts. No seawall, or sandbag can protect us if our Democratic levy is breached.

I recall after the second plane hit the World Trade Center the COO of the company, I was working for at the time called out to me “We are at WAR. Get all the managers into the conference room ASAP”. Being in a kind of state of shock I yelled back “o.k. who are we at war with”?

This fog of war still seems to be in the atmosphere. It is the skyline of Dante’s Limbo. A constant backdrop of angst, insecurity, decline of morality, and unthinkable acts of hatred loom in plain site as we go about our day.

If Limbo is the “new norm” then maybe we must make the best of it and try in small ways to be decent humans and fan each other’s lights.

I think of the words of Reverend Martin Luther King “Darkness cannot dive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

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