A few days ago I was thinking about a particularly miserable old sod I happen to unfortunately know. I most often picture him sitting, always in the same spot, wading through the worst of the ‘news’ he can find and quietly enjoying every minute of it. Seeing things wrong in the world reinforces every negative stereotype and bias he has and so he feels justified in both the wading and the enjoyment.
This time I reached a disturbing conclusion – he and I have something in common. We both (me only on my bad days) believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
We believe it for different reasons though. He sees youthful excesses and traffic halting protests as a sign that society is broken, but businesses treating their employees badly is just the price we pay for a ‘free’ market that will rescue us all from socialism.
I believe the opposite. I believe that young women sailing halfway across the world to speak truth to old men may be the only things that could save us from food shortages and wild fires. I believe that billionaires complaining about ONLY being left with several million to live on (every year) is the price we pay for believing the hype (nope, the rest of us will not all become billionaires one day).
Even though we both believe things are broken we do not react in the same ways.
I cannot know what goes through his mind, I could guess, but I may well be wrong. What I can know is that his words and actions make the world just a little MORE depressing, unpleasant and toxic for everyone around him. Maybe the examples of him and his fellow believers have something to do with the way I react to what’s wrong in the world. I don’t want to wallow in self-righteousness, complaining loudly but doing nothing and I don’t want to sit comfortably and enjoy the to ride to hell. I want to kick and scream and make it difficult for complacent, unthinking people everywhere.
So I turn to the person next to me and I help out when I can. That might be supporting the eduction of a girl halfway around the world or helping to buy a sewing machine for a woman raising her family alone through micro-loans (KIVA) but usually it is simply by saying No. No, I won’t walk past someone obviously suffering. No, I won’t listen to your racist joke without calling you out. No, I won’t turn away a friend when they need something I can give.
I stick two fingers up to the billionaires, pay your fucking taxes if you want any more respect than that and no, I won’t be using your service/company/product. I send a FU to the fear-mongers, war-mongers and hate-mongers by voting each and every chance I get. I reuse and recycle, I save water and energy and I hold my head up high as I am part of the solution, not the problem.