What can we do when so many things, almost completely outside our control, keep assailing us? Situations, images, assertions, statements, facts, lies, retellings of things people have or haven’t really done. Perhaps, some version of the classic “fight, flight, avoidance” strategy? Deciding whether we can change things, accept them, or remove ourselves from the situation. But, does any of that truly solve anything?
If we were living in a world we could trust, maybe these things work (Notes One). If we could be sure our attempt to fight injustice would be met with a wisdom that acknowledged and stood alongside our indignation, restoring order and ensuring problems were rightfully dealt with. If we could feel that by walking away, keeping our head down or going with the flow others wouldn’t suffer from our lack of action.
Instead, it seems we’re living in a world that demands our engagement. The nature of modern systems makes almost everything we’re doing part of much larger global networks with tendencies toward greed, exploitation and various forms of destruction. Resting passively or turning our head away, we’re arguably still facilitating rather than challenging such realities.
If that’s the nature of life now, in all its relentless insistence, what “is” the right way of dealing with it? This unending flood of all that’s demanding our attention – things we should rightfully care deeply about – surely runs the risk of overwhelming our capacity for intelligent, balanced, reasonable responses (Notes Two).
Effectively, social infrastructure – the whole of “life” – is being dismantled and reworked around us while those responsible for doing so stand little chance of being affected by the fallout. We’re the ones bearing the stress and uncertainty of trying to safely navigate a shifting landscape. It seems we’re the guinea pigs, the canaries, testing out how viable all this is – the crumple zone of modern innovation (Notes Three).
It’s perhaps understandable that people rage, turn a blind eye, or suffer from the psychological pressures. Anxiety, depression, interpersonal tension, low tolerance levels and lack of consideration for others kind of make sense given everything we’re all under. Angry activism clearly has a context, as does careless social disengagement. But, potentially, these things compound rather than resolve our problems.
We all know what’s going on, and that it matters. If we’re to trust in the systems or companies governing our lives then they surely need to be trustworthy: acting out of concern for our reality as much as their own. There’s great responsibility to breaking society down and reconfiguring it around new ways of operating. Being sure those at the helm aren’t treating “our lives” as collateral damage seems so incredibly important.
Within all the awareness of and immersion in the troubled themes of modern living, where’s the answer? Can we do little but swing between idealism and despair (Notes Four), or is there a path of active engagement in constructing the solutions we all need? And, while we’re seeking that ground, what’s happening to our frayed nerves and relationships?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Trust within modern society
Note 1: What would life be if we could trust?
Note 1: Who should we trust?
Note 1: Trust in technology?
Note 2: Would we be right to insist?
Note 2: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 2: Desensitised to all we’re told?
Note 2: Questions around choice
Note 3: All that’s going on around us
Note 3: Matt Haig’s “Notes on a Nervous Planet”
Note 3: Mental health as a truth to be heard?
Note 3: Concerns over how we’re living
Note 4: Effect, if everything’s a drama
Note 4: Do we know what we’re doing?
Note 4: Convergence and divergence
Note 4: Dystopia as a powerful ideal
Fully aware this is perhaps my bleakest post to date, these more optimistic ones may help serve to offset it: “Minding the Earth, Mending the World”, “Living Beautifully” by Pema Chödrön & This thing called love.