This is not an article about changing the world
January 25, 2017
Last time I was published here, I wrote about the Conservative leadership candidates needing to lose their fear. Now, geopolitical events make analyzing their particular feelings seem like a boring pursuit. My own fear is much more pressing, so that's what I've been thinking (and now writing) about.
It's probably a side effect of being constantly connected, but it seems like global uncertainty is a lot more present in our lives. I remember when the latest international horror could be turned off. It was helpful. Necessary. Now, unfortunately, it's nearly impossible. Even if you ditch your phone, everyone around you isn't going to do the same. We're all in this together.
This has its advantages. The globalized, digitally networked capitalist world order has helped hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty, and will likely finish the job before the century is out. If feeling like disaster could strike at any moment is the main side effect, that's fine.
But I'll write more about the positives in some other piece. This one is for complaining. Being an adult is stressful enough. Finding a job with a set of skills that are quickly becoming obsolete, as the machines take over. Keeping that 0.02% extra on your average, to make the difference between just some debt and a load of debt. Paying your recently increased utilities bill. This is taxing on the mental health of the most privileged, let alone the piles of additional challenges that accrue as personal advantages decrease.
On top of these normal worries, we are now, (especially young people) supposed to be digital freedom fighters. You can be the change! What's your impact? The issues of the day, from Trump, to the UK, even to Poland sometimes, demand a response: From YOU. We are tasked with making change in a dreary, uncertain world.
Feeling like things are moving in the wrong direction can be devastating. On top of the other stressors, it's enough to sap your last bit of energy. Here's what I'd like to write on that subject:
History is on the side of the righteous! Committed, hardworking groups of people, even when faced with a significant challenge, can do anything! We will overcome the issues of today, and lead one another into a new and glorious tomorrow!
That's what I'd like to write.
However, history is not on the side of the righteous. Whichever side wins on a particular issue will just reform cultural norms and values to make what happened acceptable down the road. That nagging uncertainty you have? Perfectly reasonable. Nothing is certain. We can only muddle along and try to do the best we can, with the comforting knowledge that the tightly wound springs of observable space-time could just unravel at any moment, no matter what any of us do.
So if flying to Washington and marching is your thing, go for it. It didn't make Trump resign, but you supported a community that supported you back, which is a valuable feeling. If posting on Facebook about the aforementioned lack of a resignation happens to be your thing instead, post away, and enjoy the great rush of adrenaline that comes from defending your views, even if they accomplish nothing and convince no one. It's what the internet is for.
Be comfortable with your particular activities, and appreciate your particular relationships. Nothing is predictable, so have a good time while you can. Work for the future, yes, work hard, but don't lose sight of the importance of today, compared to the unimportance of our predictions for tomorrow. Do what you can. Do it without fear.
The great geopolitical events we argue over are insignificant compared to the vast nighttime distances that stretch above us, as we sit, maybe on a porch next to some fragrant cedar trees, with a drink, and with people we love.