“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It
In my experience there is a huge sense of ‘this cannot be different’ among people when they once in a while are stopped and forced to think about the world. All the crime, poverty, violence and war out there (and sometimes close by).
That sense of powerlessness is paralyzing and usually leads to people, well, thinking about something else rather quickly. That is my experience anyway and I do understand it.
When I was younger and a student (of course!) I loved to discuss more social justice and how to bring it about.
Now I am older, with more obligations and probably also more disillusioned, although I definitely believe in a better society still. But I do tend to not allow myself many moments wondering about it.
There is another task for me to be sure. If I – idealistic as I consider myself – have also become prone to ‘not thinking too much about a better world’ … then what hope is there? How can I ask people are busier than I am and even less idealistic … to think more about what we could do to change the world?
I don’t have an answer. It is something about striving to be a better example, perhaps. And starting small.
Perhaps it is easier to show other people that you are into organic foods and let that be an example. It is certainly easier than discussing world food policy.
Who can do something about that?
Yes, who indeed?
These days (some of) the world’s attention, including mine, is inexorably drawn towards Thailand where international and navy divers try to save a group of boys stranded in a cave, filled with rising waters.
In an age with greedy, callous, imbecile leaders of powerful countries, strife and war and the old media still wallowing in all sorts of other bad news, these stories of human bravery and sacrifice are a lot more important, I feel, than the story of the actual mission itself. More than the sum of its parts, so to speak. The story helps remind us all, at least yours truly, that there are a lot of really good, brave and competent people out there. Being just that as part of their job.
This kind of story helps remind us all, at least yours truly, that there are a lot of really good, brave and competent people out there.
Being just that as part of their job.
Hopefully the Trump experience (or whatever you wanna term it) can lead to some change of lasting value, like parts of Trump’s base finally getting that it is not helpful to them or anyone else to be absurdly uncritical of such a flawed candidate.
Or parts of the the anti-Trump voter segments finally getting that if they want to avoid another Trump they might want to concern themselves more with how people who wanted for Trump think and feel and what their problems are. In sum: less polarization in US society and not more.
Currently, that looks like a very fragile hope as far as I can see, but I’m keeping it up anyway. What else is there to do?
It is cold comfort, when one thinks about how many more people have to die in the meantime of this completely avoidable cause – witness the effects of gun restriction laws in other countries. But in the face of a so-called advanced society which makes such primitive choices in so many cases I believe there is little to do but grit one’s teeth and pray they will make better choices – that things will go in the right direction, in spite of everything.
You can judge them Americans, loathe them, or ridicule them – or some of them. But it won’t help.
The only choice is to keep eyes firmly focused on a better future and what it takes to get there. That goes for us as well. Amen.
As always the world seems a strange place of both heartbreaking beauty and icy shadows at the same time. I pray that beauty will find its way into enough people’s hearts at the right times that we may right out another stormfront and let it pass.
The question of how the Internet can be used to achieve such ‘oneness’ consciousness in the world, or contribute to it – and find out what exactly it is that needs to be achieved – that is something I will probably spend the rest of my life on.
I thought a lot about it when I was younger, but despite routine and every day problems setting in, it seems as if this fundamental question never really went away. It is still with me. I’m still trying to define it – and its answers.
There are worse things to live with.
I can’t do anything about Trump, except perhaps write this and hope somebody will find a more constructive way to stop him from doing bad with his present power, than writing a 25 column scathing op-ed about his latest tweet. (For that will only make him stronger!)
I can remind myself, though, not to feed other trolls whenever I see them, especially on the Internet. And that the best way to starve those trolls into nothingness is to starve them off attention.
There are a lot of other wishes out there that make the world go round, though, and mine is not decisive. I have to accept that.
Be that as it may. It doesn’t make my little wish for a new American president – who is actually worthy of the job – any less precious.
I hope I am just a bitter old fanatic left-wing academic has-been who has no clue. I hope the obsessive media coverage of terror will not have the slightest effect on deranged peoples’ choice to use terror.
They’ve been droning all morning in the radio about Manchester. The scores of children elsewhere in the world who were killed last week in similar bombings barely gets a notice … We should think very, very carefully about how much news junk we let into our minds – especially if we get our news from the 24 hour channels that show endless reruns.
It affects us, more than we know. It is NOT an objective view of the world.
And now I will say a prayer for the poor families of Manchester. I feel now more than ever how horrible it could be to lose a child and I hope I will never experience it.
But I need to remember that despite the horror this is just the news going bananas, zooming in on the most scary thing right now.
It is not all.
Whatever the exact percentage, the majority of news from the old media (papers, TV, radio) IS concerned with something negative, one way or the other.
And it is concerned with US. 110 per cent. Not very much everybody else.
And these stories from the seemingly ‘objective news media’ subtly affect your mind.
They make you by default have a more negative outlook on the world and feel that it is more dangerous – ‘closer to home’ – by over-reporting deaths caused by such a horrible attack compared to the thousands of people killed every year by smoking, including children. Or compared to deaths in other parts of the world.
I don’t think the times are worse, though, than in 1919. I don’t think they are better either.
I think you can always find something ‘better’ or ‘worse’ depending on what you look at. And that’s what’s important.
I want to see that mosaic. Or swirl of colors. Or whatever the right metaphor for Life is.
There’s a scale on which I believe you have to go back and forth all life. If somebody behaves in a way that is unacceptable to you, and you don’t have to please them because you fear them, should you then try to understand and please them because you have a moral obligation? Because their behaviour, like anger, is a veiled disguise for a positive intent, like wanting to be respected?
Or should you demand that people also live up to a minimum standard to gain that respect. A standard of behaviour you set.
The answer, as with everything else in life, is blowing in the wind and will differ from time to time.
It is not always right to try to respect people no matter how outrageously you think they behave. It is not always right to not care about them.
The the question in politics, and in life.
Worth remembering if you want to change people: Nobody ever stopped being un-caring assholes because they were told they were being un-caring assholes.