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In for a penny

There are so many terrible things happening in the world that I haven’t stood against. There will always be. I am just one tiny, feeble human. Insignificant. Powerless in the face of vast systemic problems, and biologically incapable of even keeping track of what those problems are.

Sometimes – many times – that has stopped me from standing for anything in any meaningful way. I overthought my way out of it, wasting my limited efforts on intellectualising instead of acting.

It’s difficult to make the argument, in our lives of such limited, precious time and attention, to exhaust ourselves over brutally ineffective, demoralising, relentless emotional labour that may or may not lead to even an iota of discernable change. We shouldn’t have to. No one should have to. And, if you’re as lucky as me, you don’t have to. You have that privilege. But many, many people do not. So many people do not.

You can talk yourself out of joining the fray by reminding yourself you’re just a drop in the expansive ocean. But that kind of poorly defined, intimidating abyss of a metaphor is a stupid way to frame it anyway. What about if we’re trying to break a dam? What if we’re turning on giant, fuck-off taps? It’s a collective effort, and the more of us there are, the quicker we reach the watershed, and the less likely any one of us is to die under the weight of what we need to carry.

We don’t have to take everything on as a personal cause. Maybe we should take a few. But just acknowledging the issue fully is transformative. Putting in the effort to fucking understand is the important part. Because you will probably find that, suddenly, you give a fuck. At least a little bit. And once you give a fuck, you’ll probably see the reward in being part of the fight.

We’ve been conditioned not to give a fuck. We’ve been conditioned to be petty and selfish and small and distracted, and every single time we break away from that it is a tiny and beautiful triumph. But, until we’ve dismantled the structures and systems built around us to confine us in petty, selfish, small, distracted lives, we will be fighting against them.

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