Doing The Next Thing
I blame it on the heat. It happens every summer. I watch my ambition, intention, drive and expectations fall in proportion to the rising temperatures. There is some of that in my present ennui, and that’s the easy explanation.
So as a countermeasure, I give myself the little lecture that reminds me how, throughout history, sea change for good in politics and society has come about from the unflagging, passionate and clear-sighted efforts of small groups of people not altogether unlike you and me.
We can all point to a few individuals whose names are household words, whose principles are printed on a magnet on our refrigerator, who would turn us from our hatred and greed, our ignorance and self-absorption, towards those things that are worthy, noble, true and good. We know they are right; we are mostly too busy to be bothered.
For the most part, those revered individuals were ignored at best in their own times, more often persecuted and punished for their efforts, but did not give up the fight. They saw their communities, countries and countrymen behaving in self-destructive ways, even when light was shed in dark places, answers were offered, solutions given. And ignored.
But face it, pal: you’re not Gandhi. And the Floyd civic groups you pour your heart into, while well-meaning and worthy of effort, can’t buoy up the rest of the planet. And the reach of your voice seems more and more to stop at the edges of your own skull.
So what is to become of the conversation in those places where the future might creep into the dialogue in my little world? People are burned out on hearing about issues so large they see themselves as powerless–population, world hunger, pollution and mass acts of hatred. How do you get your head around such planet-sized obstacles?
At the middle point between damned if you do and damned if you don’t lies the black hole of apathy. I don’t want to go there or be there. But I feel its pull today.
Meanwhile, those I admire get up every morning and do the next thing. They put on their pants and write, speak, study, meet, organize and hope. They are undeterred knowing they will likely leave this hungry world in chaos, when it could have been otherwise. They do the work for the good that might be rather being overwhelmed by the ills that loom so large and ominous just ahead, or even now.
Do I tear up this digital journal page and toss it in the little trash icon and take what catharsis it offered and go on; or do I save it and let others read it over my shoulder? Do I return after all to Lester Brown‘s World on the Edge (Living on Earth interview) as a possible news column I had started and stopped when the indifference set in?
If so, find the hope. It lies in Brown’s subtitle: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse.
We do still have a choice. But only if we don’t let the conversation die. If you are like me and can’t stand the heat, come on back to the kitchen. And we’d best keep talking.