It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
That statement by Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities) can be applied to any time in human history. Now, perhaps for the first time in human history, people all over the globe can participate in a shared human culture. We can form bonds of friendship with people we’ve never met. We can affect policy, opinion, and processes all over the world. We can unite in one cause as no other group before us could.
But that global vision brings us the worst of humanity at the same time. We see injustice, suffering, and pain everywhere… all the time. We become almost numb to it. What can one voice out of billions actually accomplish? What can one more signature on a petition actually do? What do we do when we cannot unite behind a single cause?
We, as a culture, can’t even agree on whether rape is bad or not. We can’t agree on whether pollution is harmful to the planet. We can’t agree on whether preventing disease is good or not.
Poor me, with my first world problems, can’t even decide on what to blog about. I’ve got a stack of papers, a book, and a couple of projects that I’m doing as well… and I sit here staring at a blank screen.
I don’t do drama well. A friend suggested that if I wanted more blog hits, I could get involved in this kind of thing. I just don’t want to. I have my opinions and my thoughts. More often than not, they aren’t terribly well thought out, it’s just what I think. I do think that a lot of people are wasting a lot of time and energy manufacturing controversy for the sake of celebrity status.
It’s their right to speak as they see fit. But they are distracting from the real issues.
To me, no one should really care if one person was offended by another person. That’s a private issue that should be worked out privately. What’s offensive to me, is that those personal issues are taking precedence over global issues like the tyranny of religion, the rejection of science, the systemic corruption in politics, and the failure of our global society to make the most of its people and resources.
We should be using individual events and experiences to explore the global perspective on major issues of our times. Not to engage in petty power struggles. When large percentages of the population of humans on this planet are systematically harmed we should speak out and show the inherent problems with systems that allow that behavior. When one person is offended by being propositioned we should not create a cottage industry in offense and rejection of that offense.
I had a very interesting conversation with a counselor recently. After knowing me and delving into the dark places in my psyche for several months, he’s come to the conclusion that my attitudes, my arrogance, my need to be right, are mostly results of my caring too much. I have had to shut down and become anti-social to protect myself. I’m so empathic that I often can’t handle the emotion generated because of caring for other people.
I’ve known this for a long time. Our modern world has has made the situation even worse. All I see on the news, facebook, twitter, and the blogs are problems. I see some cool science being done and then the government slashes the research budget. I hear about a great victory in human rights and read about a hundred problems. I see a kitteh hasing the coot and then read about how our culture can’t even be bothered to make sure their pets can’t over populate.
It’s frustrating. Frustrating isn’t even the right word. It’s madness inducing.
So what do we do? (Meaning, “what do I do?”)
I don’t know. Some people are born to greatness and may well change the world. I’ll help them any way I can. Meanwhile, I’ll muddle along the best I can and continue to point out that things that are obvious.