When you’re too small

The impetus for me writing about the insane double bind I place myself in when contemplating the notion of interacting with the world was the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Because I wanted to write about it, but how could I possibly have value to add? I know nothing. And, unlike some world events of recent times, I don’t even feel stirred to anger about it, I just feel very sad. And it feels very far away. And I feel very far removed from it. And there is a gratitude and relief I feel for being so far removed. And there is a powerlessness and ineptitude I feel for being so far removed.

Yet there is also this knowing that it wouldn’t take so very much for me to find myself in a very similar situation to the people trying to flee Kabul. It seems a world away, so very inconceivable, but, really, in my lifetime, it could happen to me, and I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that. And if it did happen to me, what would I want the person on the other side, living in a different world, so far removed from my heartbreak and fear and struggle, to do? I don’t know. I know nothing.

I am just one, tiny, inconsequential being. I am nothing against the systems in place. I exist here, in my room, with very few resources to offer and a very limited idea of how I could offer them. I don’t matter in this. But something that soothes me in these moments, when I feel so entirely dwarfed by the magnitude of an issue, is something I learned when I did non-violent direct action training with Greenpeace many moons ago – the concept of ‘bearing witness’.

At the very least – even if we can’t figure out how to help, or how to heal, or how to change what’s wrong – we all have the power to bear witness.

Bearing witness will change you. It will change the way you move through the world. Bit by bit, it will change the world. But it will also share the load. It will spread the word. It will allow the sufferers to breathe, knowing that they are not solely responsible for carrying the burden of their story. That they don’t need to hold it alone. That you bear it too; as much as you are able.

Stacked odds

It’s quite tiring living in such a complex world.

I try to be informed, and I try to pick balanced sources. I know everything is biased, I know everything has an agenda, and we have to be careful with that. I know I’m inclined to radical ideas and radical responses, and I have to be careful with that.

The shitstorm we’ve been living through lately really made me want to act more to help clean it up. But the more I get into it, the less clear it seems to me what cleaning up would be, rather than just smearing it around the floor a bit more. It’s difficult not to concede that I am too insignificant a player to even find a viable route, when everything is a tightly convoluted interwoven buzz wire game. I was happy to follow the leader, but all of the leaders have been letting me down.

When you know you don’t have a clue, really, it becomes difficult to make a move, for fear of doing damage. I went into relative stasis, unwilling to become an inadvertant pawn in a game of chess I didn’t even know was being played. I think, in this interim I staked out for myself, I have started to identify the boundaries of what looks to me like soundly ethical behaviour. But its range is fucking small. I still don’t have a clue about the rest of it.

Our brains weren’t meant to cope with shitstorms of this magnitude. Maybe we can’t be saved until Elon Musk’s neural implants or whatever come to usher in a new technological phase of our evolution. Or maybe that’s what he wants us to think…