My friends ask me how I stay happy knowing the things I write about.
That’s easy. No matter how bad things are, people go on with their lives, they laugh, make love and carry on the best they can.
I’m lucky in that I discovered extreme sports when I was young. Skiing down a tight couloir, racing my mountain bike along flowing single track, or flying a wing suit through the clouds allows me the luxury of not sweating the little stuff. The sun is warm, the sky is blue and I have someone who loves me.
Why despair? Being unhappy only hurts you. Walking around like a martyr serves no good. And, Americans as a whole spend far too much time worrying about stupid shit, like terrorism or sexual predators menacing their children. I believe that the idea is to keep people perpetually frightened and under control.
If that’s true then the authoritarians have hit the trifecta. The world is being overtaken by events. There was hardly time to take in the attack in Nice before there was the Turkish coup, followed by the release of the missing 29 pages from the 9/11 report, and news of a possible coup in Armenia.
At this point there is a lot of bad stuff that’s baked in. Our elite have been busy enacting neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policies that any sensible person knew were going to turn out badly. That time is now.
So what. The world has always been a shit show for a lot of people, maybe it’s my turn.
Life goes on.
One of my favorite writers, Ian Welsh, nails it when he says, “Enjoy your lives as best you can. Take joy in the real things of your immediate lives. The horrors that are happening to others are not happening to you and making yourself unhappy because others are unhappy does nothing to help them, and harms you. That doesn’t mean “do nothing,” it means do what you’re reasonably able to do, and don’t sweat the rest. There are billions of people on Earth, you aren’t personally responsible for this, and your contribution is not going to be the key if other people don’t also get off their asses.
With great change comes great opportunity. Milton Friedman and the movement right understood this concept and had a program–neoliberalism–ready when New Deal policies faltered in the 1970’s. It’s the same thing for progressives. If you want a better world start thinking about how to make it so.
Right now, both parties and many voters are reportedly unhappy with their nominees. This election represents an unprecedented opportunity for change in both political parties and going further, a chance to reform the underlying political and economic power structures in the US.
When things are going great it’s easy to be a rugged individual, but when times are tough we need the support of other humans. Unfortunately, it takes tough times to create community, or mass movements.
In the next post, I want to start discussing ways we can all do a little bit to make things better, and how these little things can help build a more progressive community/mass movement.