I forgot to post about this last week, but I am participating in The 365 Project, and last Thursday was my day. The goal of the project is to capture 365 individual perspectives on the 365 days in 2010, and my post (the comments of which feature someone who is inexplicably very upset at the fact that I used that post to spread dirty lies about ostriches) was about how in the general spectrum of awareness of the world around me, I tend to end up at the end where I have to ask Mike when he gets home from work whether something happened in Poland a few weeks ago because I keep seeing references to Poland in places that previously were relatively consistent in their lack of reporting on the aforementioned country.
The fact of the matter is that when your coworkers spend all day doing this, you kind of end up wanting to do a lot of that yourself, and the end result is that when I finally clue in to what’s going on in the world — the aid workers in Israel, the gunman in England, the oil spill that’s killing all of the beautiful pelicans — I end up feeling completely paralyzed, like the only thing I can really do or really want to do is to ask myself, over and over, what have we done? I can’t look at world events in a dispassionate way, so for me it’s either pretend it’s not happening or see what’s happening and feel completely powerless to do anything about it.
But then sometimes I get to have these little moments of inspiration, or clarity, or hope, or something else altogether, when I talk to people in my life who somehow manage to look at insurmountable problems like human trafficking or poverty or government corruption or war and think yes, we can fix this. It’s messy and it’s dangerous and it’s hard, but we can fix this. That’s what they say, about these impossible, impossible things! It just about blows my mind every time, and serves as a very pointed reminder that, yes, there is evil in the world, but there’s also people of great grace and humility and generosity, people who are purposeful about how they live their lives, what they stand for, which battles they fight, how they fight them. It’s how I want to be when I grow up, if I can ever learn to stop riding the pendulum back and forth between avoidance and desperation, and at the risk of being inflammatory in what is usually a rather lighthearted space, I’d wager there’d be a lot less bad news to hide from if we all wanted to be more like that.
Mike and I joke a lot about an old South Park bit where the Underpants Gnomes concoct a 3-step scheme where Step 1 is to steal all the underpants and Step 3 is to somehow profit from Step 1. I feel kind of like an Underpants Gnome in this situation, where Step 1 is to realize I can help make the world a better place, and Step 3 is to stand back and look at the better world we’ve created, but Step 2 is conspicuously absent. Step 3 seems impossible but Step 2 is really the hard part, isn’t it?