I ponder how one handles this despondency, and I find that people probably have three responses that can be categorized simply. If you are aware of the magnitude of this despair, or perhaps have felt it in a way that I have for perhaps the first time in my life, I think that one can have only three responses. There may be others, but I cannot think of them, nor do I have any intuition of them. But there are others, maybe better responses that do not underestimate the nobility of the human being as I am prone to do.
The first is the obvious response, and the one that I have to admit that I adopt most often. It is easy to do when one lives in the cocoon that I inhabit. It means that the obvious response is to ignore it. One closes ones heart, does not think of the rest of the world. It is what I once called snarkily the Indian response. In a society that is so best by poverty and that fails to deal with it and shows little improvement, if one did not ignore the issue, one would I think fail at living ones every day life. I accept that not all people can work for change, millions must lead ordinary lives so that a few can create the change that is needed. But I would at the same time, wish more of the millions.
The most common response I feel is that of apathy. It is not head in the sand, nor is it activism. It is the worst response to any problem, and the most evil of ways to behave towards any people or problem. It signifies that the problem is not even worthy of notice, let alone any attempt to fix it or repair it. Or even worse yet they recognize the problem, but think that it need not be fixed now, that to fix it now would upset the boat to much, would too trouble their own lives, that their conscience could not be moved enough to bring action from their limbs. But I should also admit that this is where I stand now, always wondering what I can do, and if I can spare the time, and finding more things to do that are more important. It is something that I will try and change, though I do not yet know how. If I could feel that even in my small way I was making a contribution, then I would be satisfied, and that even a small change that might be attributed to me, could justify a whole life. In summary though, my feelings might be best summed up by this Martin Luther King Jr. quote: ““In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. Nor could it be summarised more clearly.
It is a saying, that one cannot bleed for the whole world, but perhaps that is what we are required to do. I think that the only thing that we can do is in fact this. One must bleed for the world, for only then does one begin to achieve the essential requirement for a proper human society, and that fundamental is compassion. One can not wrap yourself in ignorance and apathy, lead a happy existence in the knowledge that others suffer. Or if you can, one must wonder what existence they lead, and what terrible recrimination can be made against them by every other soul on the planet. A people who recognize this will organise their society on it. Some day I hope the world will recognise this, but I wouldn’t hold your breath in anticipation.
It is of course true that the modern world is not found on such a basis, and that if you suggested that society ought to be founded like this, people would dismiss you as a hippie socialist, who has no understanding of the real world. I wonder though, who is more correct, the one who insists the world is as it is, and the one who insists that the world is not what it should be. Who lives more in the real world, who is most attune to reality, and who is really entombed in a illusion.