All Commentary
Thursday, January 12, 2017

To Care or Not to Care about “the World”?

Defeatism is a cop out to pain; and pain is what leads to change.

Here’s the thing, everyone has problems. No exceptions. Everyone also perceives that the world has problems.

Most everyone has faith in themselves to solve their own problems or at least better their situation. This is why we wake up every morning and keep at it. Somewhere along the line though our problems pale next to large-scale societal issues. The micro dissolves into the macro and our measly daily efforts seem useless.

Enter Defeatism

It seems like a disproportionate amount of social commentators and average people assume the worst for society. Funnily enough, all of their specific conceptions of what doesn’t work are different. Ask a Trumpite and they’ll throw some vague rhetoric about jobs, immigrants, and welfare. Ask any progressive and they’ll say the problems stem from greed, human nature, and tax breaks.

There will always be people you disagree with doing things you abhor; they are not you.

If we were to follow these two tribes, every day would be a new nightmare. I can speak with some authority on this mindset because I lived it for over a decade. Of course, I could manage my life, but our damn society was doomed! As a more libertarian minded individual, I had even more people to hate than had I just belonged to one of the two tribes. Tribes give solace in numbers and consolation in pity.

The thing is, once you irrefutably accept that the world is beyond your influence, you are done.

Sure, you may still go through the motions of living a “normal” life with a family, job, and hobbies, but every single night the beads of sweat will start forming. This is why we have alcoholism, sugar addiction, and entertainment addiction. Just pushing the button, scooping that ice cream, and popping that cap are a hell of a lot easier in the moment to get enjoyment than grappling with existence.

But that is a cursory and shallow happiness which only leads to broken relationships and/or blood vessels.

What Causes This Strife?

It is our obsession with controlling our own lives that is projected onto society.

A few things about this.

There will always be things outside of your control. There will always be people you disagree with doing things you abhor. The secret is, they are not you.

In affecting positive change within our own lives, we are improving society.

I don’t mean that you should go through this life oblivious to any injustices occurring around you without helping. As Ben Franklin put it “An empty sack has trouble standing up on its own.” In other words, you can only truly help someone once you are stable yourself. And if your day-to-day consists of worrying, binging, guilt, anger, castigation, and arrogance, then you are no good to anybody, including yourself.

I get it. Defeatism brings with it a sort of untouchability. It’s the reason nihilists are so smug. Why try when you know that there is no reason to? Or maybe I’m completely off base and people have such apocalyptic projections because it makes the actual future, no matter how shitty, feel good in comparison. Though I have a feeling that such a stoic interpretation of the defeatists is too generous. Defeatism is a plain cop out to pain. And pain is what leads to change.

If we completely ignore the pain points in our society then they will never get solved. But if we become completely enraptured by them, we can lose our sanity. Probably why our country’s political atmosphere looks like it does right now. It’s a fine dichotomy to navigate. To care or not to care? That is the question. The answer to which is somewhat duplicitous but mostly unnecessary.

All we have to know is that we are each in charge our respective destinies. This is why we get up in the morning and work to better our lives. There is no shame in such self-interested motives because by the transitive law, in affecting positive change within our own lives, we are improving society.

Reprinted from Innocent Ideas.