With the start of the new year, it’s usually a time for reviews and lists — accomplishments, things that went wrong, etc. etc. Last year was a slow one on this blog, and I didn’t publish much for a few reasons. For one, I felt I lost my audience, and my posts seemed not to go anywhere. Perhaps we’re over-saturated with the online world and this blog has lost its novelty. That’s OK. Nothing lasts forever. I still have some ideas, but I’ve written most of what I wanted to say. Well, the big things anyway.
The other reason, I think, is that I’ve become dismayed by the state of the world, and the U.S. in particular — the increasing frequency of climate disasters, the creeping authoritarianism, the growing political polarization, the disregard for truth, the uptick in right-wing extremism, the demonizing of immigrants, the damage done via the child separation policy, and the curtailing of refugees admitted (at a time when there are more displaced people in the world since World War 2). Anyway, this blog started to feel a bit futile in the big picture of a world that seems to be shedding compassion in favor of callousness, favoring insularity over connection.
Maybe that’s the wrong attitude. Last semester, I suggested an analogy to my class about velocity versus acceleration. When we’re traveling in a car at a constant speed, the movement is fairly imperceptible. It’s when there’s a change in speed or direction that motion becomes more noticeable to us. Applying that scenario, the current state of things would feel pretty good if, for example, we were just emerging from a war (at least in the U.S.). However, we seem to be accelerating in the wrong direction now. That shift doesn’t feel very good, but it’s important to hold the line and try to push the momentum back in the other direction.
There’s a new-ish U2 song “The Little Things that Give You Away” which Bono described as an internal argument where “innocence challenges experience … At the end of the song, experience breaks down and admits his deepest fears, having been called out on it by his younger, braver, bolder self.” So that’s where I am now, mentally, where the state of the world has eroded some of that innocence and optimism; now I’m shoring up some bravery for the challenges ahead.
It’s a good song, by the way. I’ve been there…
Sometimes I can’t believe my existence
See myself from a distance
I can’t get back inside
Sometimes the air is so anxious
All my tasks are so thankless
And all of my innocence has died
Sometimes I wake at four in the morning
Where all the darkness is swarming
And it covers me in fear
Sometimes I’m full of anger and grieving
So far away from believing
That any sun will reappear
The end is not coming
It’s not coming
The end is here