Friday, September 20, 2013
Actionable or not?
There are a lot of things to get upset about: war, poverty, injustice, corruption, environmental degradation, politics, high energy costs, the fraying of the social fabric, and so on and so on.
It would be very easy to write a blog railing against those things day after day. That's fine, but it's not enough. Some of us are just programmed to want to fix problems. When someone complains about something, I can't help it. I want to fix it.
When it gets right down to it, the number of things that the average person can fix are pretty limited. My voice might join with a multitude of others and accomplish something, but alone it's a mighty small squeak.
While I can't fix the big problems, often I can share strategies for coping with them. For example: I can't do something about high energy costs directly, not being on the boards of any major companies. However, I can share conservation and alternatives that help individuals save energy and money.
That fits in with a more general strategy of mine: disconnecting from the systems that exploit me. I stop feeding the beast. I'm not one of those people who'll drive a big gas guzzling SUV to an environmental protest rally. Instead, I'll do things to greatly reduce my need for transportation fuels.
In general, I do a lot to disconnect from consumer culture. I'm not a consumer, I'm a citizen. Avoiding TV with its relentless advertising makes that a lot easier. By not buying a lot of junk, my time and money is spent on things I really enjoy -not something the TV told me I'd enjoy.
Another thing I can't fix is people. It's not my job. In fact I believe it's wrong as free will is sacred. That being said, I can show alternatives and use logical persuasion. That doesn't fit in with the emotional hot button pushing of our age, but so be it. Anyone who tries to use fear to motivate people is suspect.
Some things can't be fixed or influenced at all. At that point all that can be done is to get out of the way. You may try to reason with a hurricane. I'm packing up my rags and getting out of town. A Jew in prewar Germany could either run or die. Options are limited sometimes. Wisdom is knowing when to fight and when to run.
What about the things that can't be fixed or avoided? Sometimes all one can do is endure. When you can't change something or get out of the way, there's not much else that can be done. At that point all you've got is religion or philosophy. Even that's better than nothing.
One thing I cannot stand is someone who constantly complains, but exerts no effort to improve their situation. Over the years I've learned that they don't actually want solutions from me. What they want is for me to make sympathetic noises. My capacity for that is very very limited.