Nasty, Brutish, Short

It is hard to find the will to blog, as it seems so futile in a world full of violence, injustice, oppression, and natural disasters. Because as a human being capable of empathy, knowing and acknowledging the degrees of danger and suffering and injustice seems so daunting, and so unchangeable. One has to surrender to the truth that millions of people suffer and die from preventable things. There is an obligation to protest, to speak out, to see what is happening and say that it is unfair and do what one can to prevent or ameliorate. And then, one has to surrender to the momentum.

Our task, the humans-in-groups task, is, I think, figuring out how to live. For those of us lucky enough to be living a life of privilege where food and shelter are readily available, where diseases are easily treatable, where there are things in place to protect us from the worst of poverty, hunger, and illness, we have to figure out how to live life in a culture that demands that work and money take priority over mental health, social life, and ecological balance. Those of us with a sense of responsibility to the rest of the human species also try to find ways to alleviate the suffering of those elsewhere, and attempt to figure out how the global culture can change in such a way that the comfort of the few is not dependent on the exploitation of the many. For those who don’t live in that world, survival becomes the daily task, and any stability must be used in turn to think of how the culture of the group can change to allow for greater survival, safety, and comfort.

Someone said to me the other day that they believe human beings are fundamentally decent. That may be true, and yet it seems that those with sociopathic tendencies have significantly more influence on the movement of the world than those who live with a degree of consideration of others. The drug cartels and mafiosi, dictators and arms dealers, human traffikers, pedophiles, and serial murderers, all seem to shape the world more than the nurses and doctors, the (un-corrupt) police and teachers, charitable givers and social workers, and just everyday decent people who ask how you are and wait to hear the answer.

Every day, as a thinking human being, we have to decide how to live in such a world.


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