I don’t know how to analog any more. I kind of long for analog. I have a friend who gave up being an advanced level mathematician to drive school busses. Some would label that a failure but I see the wisdom in it. I feel that there is a richness in analog experiences that can never be matched by the shininess of digital. Like going to a concert where everything is amplified. It’s great and so fun, but can never match that evening where it was just a guitar and a flamenco dancer. The floor would shake and the fibers of my body would dance with the music like a lover. That is experience that has value on many levels.
What has happened to us as a people? We are driven by novelty. My kids know nothing but novelty and look at this, now look at this… There is enough struggling with life and it’s complexities when you have the richness of experience but without that, the struggles are the only thing that is real. Is it any wonder that we are lost, so desperate for our next fix of video or petroleum that we are willing to pay anything, destroy anything, forget anything in order to get it?
The epidemic of depression isn’t a physiological problem. It’s a spiritual one. Our quest for meaning has created huge movements and created our history. When meaning becomes even more obscured through levels of reality, the sickness becomes so deep that is becomes psychosis.
The psychosis manifests in all kinds of forms, drinking and drug use to remove ourselves from it’s grasp, violence to attempt to quell it and numbness, just numbness.
What is the answer? One can’t just decide that they aren’t playing the game anymore. A lot of people commit suicide because they feel that they are stuck in the wrong life and the pain is too much. I don’t believe that that is ever the answer. We see what we want to see and if we only see pain now, in this life, in this body, that will continue wherever we end up. No matter how resolutely we feel our problems are outside of us, they are always inside.
Others believe that moving themselves to a remote location and living a more pastoral, simple existence is the answer. This may be comforting in the short term. It certainly is beautiful, but we don’t live in separate environments that are created by property lines or even geographic boundaries. The contaminated groundwater created by the city people also affects the Amish community down the road. Ignorance of things that affect us only affords us ignorance, nothing else.
What level of balance, of involvement enough to maintain understanding and affect change is the most useful? How much media about the destruction that has already happened is consumable before we all turn our heads, thinking it is futile to try and stop the machine that we have created and participated in? And if we limit our research and watchfulness what will slip by us that we could have affected?
The trap of activism is the tendency for overwhelm. Anger and the cry of injustice are not sustainable in the same way that you can’t run a sprint indefinitely. Without careful guarding of our attitudes we can become discouraged but also can turn into extremists. Extremism is always detrimental because it rejects dialogue.
The way we function is to classify and categorize things. It’s the basis of language and how we code our perception so we aren’t constantly overwhelmed by the richness of the world around us. If we stopped to notice the shape of every branch on every tree, we would move slowly, too slowly for the world we have created. Extremism is this tendency calcified. Where we are too hurt or too scared to see anything than the view we have endorsed, or our family, or our people have endorsed.
But when the machine is so big and the pain is so intense, how can we avoid being extreme? Is there a way to maintain our balance without falling head first into our own viewpoint? Is there a way to see things that hurt us and that we believe also hurt others without saying “this has to stop at any cost”?