The news is typically chock full of all kinds of things to be outraged over. The constant reporting of violence in one form or another, seemingly glorified every day at 7am, 5pm and again at 10pm on your local channels. Inequality being championed as the “normal” position of the day. The insensitive nature of governmental leadership at nearly every level to the plight of those who struggle in every aspect of their lives. Read any social media platform and you will find people pissed off about one thing or another from nearly every angle. Question the reasoning behind any of these folks’ positions, and you will likely be maligned as a “nazi” of some form or another (no matter which side you talk with). Seemingly, our society is cloaked in a position of anger, ready to strike out at anyone that does not implicitly share that same anger in lock-step. I wonder how all of that raw emotion is playing out in our daily lives?
I cannot and will not answer for others, but I know it affects me. I am not the most sensitive individual in terms of picking up on empathic projections. Then again, I am not sure you need to be an empath of any degree of sensitivity to feel the palpable, raw emotion that permeates the air these days. The news is wall-to-wall coverage of these aspects of today’s society. The more outrage that can be cultivated from a news story, the bigger the headlines seem to get. And all that swirling negativity grinds on me. Each day has become a need to peel the negativity back and find the beauty of the world underneath all of that thick, dark blanket we have been covered in.
To combat a lot of that negativity, I have taken to perusing the news at single points in the week. The rest of the time, I spend reading books on topics I want to read, and occasionally finding fiction materials to deliver some escape. Beyond that, I try to be outside as much as I can. No connection to the online world, no music; just myself and the outside world. I listen to the wind, I feel the air on my face, I listen to the sounds of the world around me – alive and seemingly oblivious to the machinations of an online environment gone mad. But still I wonder, what is this constant barrage of negativity doing to us as a wider, all-encompassing society?
When I do read the news, I am seeing a lot more of the old divisions of my youth rising up again. Seemingly perpetrated by people my age, but embraced by some of the younger generations as well. Racial stereotypes, gender discrimination, age bias, even distasteful manners of assumption where individual knowledge is concerned. Much of it seems to be fueled by political perspectives as if only one side of the political spectrum wants to do right by human society. All these little islands of what is “right” and “wrong” with society being cast upon one side of the spectrum or another, and that crushing of one side will remove all the divisions that are there.
The crushing of one side. The defeat of evil, in the eyes of those that claim to be good and righteous. In the movie Excalibur, Merlin decrees “Good and evil, there never is one without the other.” When King Arthur asks where evil would reside in his kingdom after its defeat, Merlin’s response is that it hides where one would least expect it. Indeed. Here in America, we view the world in black and white without regard to the true nature of the shades of grey that manifest between. We desire to crush one opponent, thinking that the end of the battle will have arrived. The reality is that we will find more ways to divide ourselves and continue a battle of righteousness and right. A battle of righteousness and right.
What we, as a collective society, seem to be seeking is a true measure of equality. Where all enjoy the same rights and privileges of others. Where we seek to set everyone on the same footing in life. We seek to eradicate the disparity of wealth. And once that is accomplished, we will find that state of bliss and happiness, right? Or will we?
In the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”, Judas Iscariot is shown to have these desires – for everyone to be on equal footing, to eradicate the concept of “poor”. Jesus retorts to Judas’ desires for this with: “Surely you’re not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot? There will be poor always, pathetically struggling, look at the good things you’ve got!” Which is a rather capitalistic way of looking at all of this. The desire is not to match items of luxury to items of luxury or dollar to dollar to achieve the desired aspect of equality. Rather, a more radical shift would need to be undertaken to achieve equality….one away from material possessions and the value of workers’ skillsets. And within this modern society, where the emphasis is placed on the amount of wealth one amasses in terms of possession and monetary gains to determine “success” – I am unconvinced that this is possibly five lifetimes from my own.
So with all that noted, I am left to ponder what I consider to be “successful” for my own life and existence. And how can I work that into my own life in a fashion that helps to cushion against the madness that I perceive as taking place in the wider communities around me? I find myself leaning back to a concept I described previously, from Kristoffer Hughes’ concept of “The Pagan Square Mile”. I cannot and will not solve the world around me, that is just not possible. But I can solve what works within my own Pagan Square Mile. And I can only hope that others follow my lead. And that others follow theirs. And so on. And then perhaps, a difference can be made. And yes, I have made the reference towards myself, many times over, to the Edgar Friendly quote from the movie Demolition Man: “I’m no leader. I do what I have to. Sometimes, people come along.” Sometimes, people come along.