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STORIES are everywhere
Despair is everywhere
Images of people in despair cross our screens. The last two weeks were full of intense news in the media: plane crashes and corporate America trying to thwart its responsibilities; a hate induced massacre. The death penalty under scrutiny. A Brexit stale-mate from a government which like a 3-yr old, can only say NO to what’s put in front of him, but can’t name an alternative. And yet another aspiring politician who wants to throw his hat in the ring for the presidential election. Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget that Congress is debating if it wants to support the House’ statement not to give weapons to the Saudi-Yemen war any more… Aren’t we ashamed of ourselves?
I have suppressed my feelings, I’ve been self-involved, keeping my show on the road by filling boxes with trail food, and going on training hikes. "Me" first, after that calls to the family, or a walk and tea with a friend, followed by my walking posts to my online-community, and the bigger world comes last. I’m numb, I have a blank stare and eat another piece of chocolate when I hear the news.
I hate that feeling of helplessness, drowning in a world that is so big that my actions don’t make a dent in the pile of awful things that happen. Our brains weren’t made for processing such bigness. Our brains were made for taking the world in at a lesser speed - such as when we walk at 2 miles an hour. Yet the modern tools of communication bombard us with news of disasters we are a part of, maybe distant now, maybe not so distant tomorrow. As in the darkening sky of a distant storm, the winds of the world are blowing disaster after disaster our way, and each night we close the shutters of our individual on-line world hoping the storm won’t come. I know my emergency kit in the closet is as useful as a sandbag pushed up against a breaking dyke.
The heaviness of the state of the world is palpable in the images where people are rummaging through wreckage, carry body-bags to the mortuaries. The images contrast with the frenzied statements of the politicians that say, “we’ll get through this”, “we’ill find a solution”, “we'll make a change”. Face of people holding candles in a vigil, laying flowers and wiping tears. None of it makes sense. How did we get here?
In my native country of Holland, when the government can’t form a governing coalition where the different parties agree to work together, the queen sends the government home until they can work it out. They don’t shut the government agencies as we do in America when we can’t agree on a budget. They don’t make the regular folks suffer for their inability to compromise. Life goes on without the leadership, taxes are paid, money is doled out, services offered. I used this method with my children when they were fighting. I would tell them: “Go to your room until you’re ready to work something out among yourselves. Then you can come out and play.”
Don’t you wish we could send the government home? Not just go home to take a break from Washington and do a few town-halls, but go home to the farm as the founding fathers did; put your hands in the soil, refresh your survival skills, work out things with neighbors and family, and then come back to govern. Go home, and remember what life is about.
We’ve taken people off the farm, automated their lives, and eased hard labour. People stuff themselves full of artificial convenience foods we’ve made available; they find entertainment with hyped up violence in movies, video-games and sports displays. The economy expects them to buy and consume more products in a year than our forefathers could use in a lifetime. The pace of living has sped up to a frantic beat, a must-have push to own, experience and display. In an ongoing storm of hyped up living people have lost their sense of purpose. Caught up in a frantic race they can’t reflect and sort out what’s important, what matters for happy living. Too many rats are racing to find respite.
No wonder that when a dogma, a train of thought, that promises order and a better life, comes along, the tired ones, the despairing ones, the ones living on the fringe, grab on to this train of thought and adopt a life that will give them purpose, belonging and survival. They will follow the dogma, the teaching, the new diet for living, the black and white thinking to save their sorry selves from racing over the cliff.
Imagine a world in which people wake up in the morning to do the work of the day, take care of the animals that provide food for them, craft the items they need, cook the food they grow, work with their neighbors to build a road to sell their ware at market. Imagine a world of less, a world in which we cherish new life, watch life pulsate as seeds grow into plants, and watch the sun set that tells us it’s time to rest.
Too simple you say? Is it? When do you feel better? After you’ve taken a walk in nature and not spend a cent, or after a rushed ride in traffic to a mall to buy new clothes you don’t need? We think, we can have it all: our walk in nature, the abundance of clothes. It isn’t so. If you want the world to continue with a sense of sanity, do with less.
I’m going on a long trail walk and do just that, get away from the news version of the world and see the world through my eyes, not the eyes of the news media. I hope and know, I will find a new purpose.
Send the government home, let’s start over again, let’s get along among ourselves.
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