“The world has changed.
I see it in the water.
I feel it in the Earth.
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost,
For none now live who remember it. ”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I haven’t posted since last year, a big shadow has taken over and writing doesn’t come easy.
First it was a slow but insidious feeling of disillusion and detachment from things, people and causes that were previously cherished and important in my life. This may be the result of burn-out: taking too many projects too seriously at the same time. I smile when people tell me they are “busy” and sometimes wonder if I have been blessed with some extra hours or days a week, just I don’t know it. I have hard time saying “no” when a project touches my heart. Saying no to things that are important to me is a kind of small death. And yet, I am myself “too busy” for so many things…
Then other real things were also happening around: a woman died after being randomly attacked in Newton, two blocks from where I work and now police is telling everybody to double security in our building and locking in… in Argentina, my home country, people have been struggling with power outages for weeks: old people dying or suffering from heat stroke, no access to water or being locked in at high-rise buildings with no power to run the elevators ; in Venezuela, my second home-country, a senseless killing of an innocent young couple (a killing that is not more important or cruel than thousands of other killings happening in Venezuela, just they received more coverage because Monica was famous, but this fact creates attention to what millions of Venezuelans have to live daily); in Canada, the “approval” of the Enbridge pipeline and “close-doors” negotiations and talks as if the government has the right to do anything at all away from the eye of the people they serve…I could continue with the many things happening in so many places impossible to mention here, and seeing people’s reactions…so far from each other, so contradictory, always looking to be “right”, so complex to bundle in just one post!
Ignoring the problems we will not solve them. But, what is the solution? Is it to bury our heads under the sand? Is it to turn our heads (and hearts) away and choose “not to care about the negative and focus on the positive”, as if by doing good things all the above and more will magically disappear? Are “positive” people realistic or just another face for denial and irresponsibility?
People in Newton area points out fingers to the lack of police, to the drug dealers, to poor lighting, to Newton being abandoned by local government…police comes to us to tell us to be careful, to put cameras and double security.
People in Argentina blame the government for allowing new development in areas where the electrical grid was already overwhelmed and government blames the private companies to which they sold the service years ago because they have taken the subsidies and haven’t done a proper maintenance…
People in Venezuela blame the government for the poor state of the roads and lack of security and patrol. The government blames society and criminals for not putting enough barriers to themselves (?)
In Canada many oppose the pipeline but only a few do so for the right reasons (some still think we should oppose it for the environmental risks it imposes in isolated areas and the beautiful species it would put in danger…while all this is important, only a few rise the conversation to what we should be discussing: what are the long-term plans to not to convert Canada into a petro-state? What are the long-term plans to phase out our fossil-fuel dependence and start seriously to invest and develop alternatives? What are the long and short-term plans to avoid putting more emissions out there and cutting the ones we are already adding? What are the long-term plans to build a long-lasting infrastructure that respect all life equally, not just a few humans, but including all the other species? What are the short and long-term conversations and education we should have having right now about how other species’ destruction is our own species’ destruction?)
The big majority, however, don’t really care and just focuses on the short-term “benefits” of “creating” more jobs (I dare asking what kind of jobs are those, how many exactly, for how long and who exactly will get them…I’m sure almost nobody who is currently in deep need of a job will be among them…but that’s part of another story)
And then the “comments section” in almost any Facebook post, blog and newspaper where these “news” are posted: with comments that go from flagrant ignorance to attacking each other, blaming and insulting to…a complete lack of comments altogether (where you expect some kind of response)!
My questions for those who read my posts are:
- Are we going to fight crime asking for tighter security and locking ourselves in? Abandoning our streets and public spaces so crime can enjoy them? Giving more power to the government and other authority figures by asking them and blaming them all the time? The ones who propose this seem to ignore the many times when tyranny used this “excuse” to exterminate those the ruling elite doesn’t like. What about us flooding with our presence those areas where people were attacked, robbed and killed? What about us putting resources together to lighten up those areas, decorate them with plants, patrol along with our children and loved ones? Why should we be submissive to those who don’t take life seriously?
- How much longer are we going to behave as little offended toddlers, always blaming the government, the private companies and “the others” (whoever they are) for every bad service, problem or lack of it? What about complaining properly by asking for accountability and, at the same time, taking the services and whatever is needed under our control through cooperatives and repairing what we can or building new infrastructure?
- What about asking those who were elected to serve us (and not the opposite) for a serious conversation, accountability and transparency and caring for the long-term? And if this doesn’t work, ask for a referendum, use all what we have. Is this serious or are we just playing a game?
I am appalled to see people still denying climate change, still denying resource depletion, still not believing how serious all this is. Even if for a second I dare to doubt about all this (even if you can convince me that climate change is not happening and that we have enough finite resources to continue mining them to make disposable toys we throw away after a few uses): I still can see the disastrous, unequal and careless systems we have built: I still can see the homeless, the poor, the suffering, the many buildings and roads taking the habitat from other species, the many oppressed working long hours amidst unsafe, sometimes infrahuman conditions, the many animals overcrowded in smalls spaces and killed with machines so we can satiate our greed for meat and dairy, the huge fields saturated with mono-crops and killing biodiversity, the corporations playing with life and trying to owe our most basic needs. I can still see the elites growing higher up and detaching themselves more from everything, the poor becoming poorer and being exploited and more people joining their lines, and the middle class acting as if nothing of this goes with them, driving more, buying more and entertaining themselves more with cheap gadgets (until they are hit by a job-loss, a cancer, a bankruptcy and then slowly wake up fro their “dream”.
And yet, those who know and care are still talking about changing bulbs, turning the lights off, labelling products and buying greener stuff. When you look deeper, these are all (including me) middle class people making middle class choices: the rich doesn’t really care and the poor just wants shelter, water and food, no matter whether they are green, brown or blue.
Many try to change people’s behavior by convincing them there will be no sacrifices, no giving up: that we will actually have better lives when (and if) we change. Some play the “good teacher” when they tell you that you shouldn’t feel guilty about what is happening.
None of the above seems to work.
A book I am still reading mentions that our lack of serious involvement and behavioral change is related to “not believing”: we “know” many facts, but we don’t “get” them…we don’t “believe” in them: like those church-goers who pray shallowly and then behave as they wish.
My burn-out comes from a place where I need to find out what does it mean to “believe”: what changes and commitments are necessary, what sacrifices do I have to make and how and to what extent I am guilty of this as we all are.
The change won’t come from blaming, accusing, complaining, and hiding, locking up, stocking up, turning away and acting as if we have nothing to do with anything.
The change will come when enough people believe and accept in their hearts that we all are responsible, that we are guilty, that we all will need to make sacrifices and give up things we love (or think we love) and that a just and caring world is not built by cowards and deniers.
“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.