Sunday, March 3, 2019

Rubbernecking the world in decline

Following the news these days, especially after a truly tragic week, is like witnessing a fatal car accident. You are horrified to see it happening but you are helpless to look away.

Watching Meet the Press this morning, I felt a fluttering in my chest that was more than too much coffee. It was an adrenal fight-or-flight response. Should I stop reading the newspapers and watching the news in order to preserve my mental health? Or should I get more involved in political activism and defending the common good?

When I started this blog in 2005, my dream was to sail around the world. Now that seems hopelessly naïve. There are too many countries along the way that would be seriously dangerous to visit. Much of the world is in turmoil, and it will only get worse as the population continues to grow and the effects of climate change become more prevalent.

What to do? Scale back the dream, first of all. Try to lessen my personal impact and contribute to causes that promote positive change. But understand that my efforts are, to use an expression I just heard, like a fart on a garbage ship—not that significant. As I recently read, individual efforts will not slow climate change. Only legislative action, in the form of stringent emission restrictions and alternative energy promotion, will accomplish anything. And that action will need to be worldwide.

Fat chance. The countries of the world are embroiled in their people’s everyday struggles—trying to secure a decent life for their families, or are enriching the few over the needs of the many. The big picture, what is happening to the world and what the future will bring, is a distant concern.

I am helpless to look away.