What to say

The last couple weeks have been utterly bonkers, as you know, readers. Like me, you’re probably tired of talking about it all. It’s a strange thing to parse: how much talking is useful? When does lack of talking become apathy? When does talking become action? Does talking ever become action?

I don’t think there are fix-all solutions to what’s happening in our society ot in the world, but I know there’s nothing to be gained from screaming at each other. I also know there’s nothing to be gained from sitting in a corner with my hands over my ears.

This shit depresses the hell out of me.

But it should, shouldn’t it? If I felt…nothing…like some people seem to, that would be many times worse. I try to remind myself of that.

I try to have conversations. Many of them are very interesting and productive. Some of them feel pointless. I try not to treat other people like they’re idiots; I don’t think it’s much to ask others do the same. But we’ve been conditioned to regard people who don’t agree with us as stupid or crazy. It’s part of the hyperbole of the system in which we live. There are people who get very rich off the idea that we’re so very different. Too different to compromise.

I know I’m not an idiot. I also know I’m not always right and, more importantly, that it’s okay not to know everything. It’s during these debates that I’m utterly thrown by how right people think they are. It goes to back to how I feel about doubt. Doubt is good for us. Doubt allows us to value the input of experts. It allows us to listen to each other. It allows us to examine why we feel the way we do and recognize our own biases.

I feel this: grief, horror, depression, anger, frustration, confusion, hopelessness, helplessness. I know that people are dying who shouldn’t be dying. I know our society is lopsided. I know there is sickness here. I know there are people who hate to a degree that I cannot fully comprehend and that they feel self-righteous in their hatred. I do not mean the Islamic State, although that is obviously also true for them.

It is tempting, sometimes, to want not to engage or speak up or think very hard about any of these things. But I go back to my own helplessness–my cosmic helplessness, if you will–which dictates that this is the world in which I must live. It’s the world in which all of us must live, if we are to live. And although we have no choice in that or in the actions of others, we do have choice. And if we must live in this time and place, then we have choices as to what we do. Not everything, not all of it. But we are still all culpable for our own conduct.

Which means, to my mind, that it’s insufficient to give up. It’s insufficient to abandon my feelings of humanism. It’s insufficient to stop talking. It’s tempting, but it does nothing. And I’d rather do something than nothing, even if the something has the same effect as the nothing ultimately. Which means I have to keep talking and thinking and doing what little I can. It is not a happy choice, but it’s the one I have.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t protect ourselves, psychologically, or that we can’t find joy or love in the world. We can and we absolutely should whenever we can–otherwise this gets far too fucking grim. I don’t want to be grim. But I do want to be awake. And I want to try.

It was hard for me to do anything last week, including write much of anything, including this blog. So in order to stick with it and keep on keeping on, I’m going to blog every (week)day this week. And if that helps, maybe I’ll just blog every day until I get tired of it. But one day at a time, as with everything.

How do you deal with all this?

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2 thoughts on “What to say

  1. I spend entirely too much time contemplating Ahab & the whale, and how it is both futile and necessary for Ahab to rage against the whale, and inevitable that the whale swallows everyone except Ishmael. And then I have to remember to be Ishmael: witness to tragedy, but still in love with the wonders of an infinite universe.

    • As for all good Ishmaels, it is hard to look away from Ahab and the whale. In fact, you get consumed by the story until the moment you manage to survive it.

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