I’m going to be honest and direct in this post. It’s one of the most difficult I’ve written. It was originally titled “I can’t do it”; I’m not sure if I’ll make it to a point where I can press the publish button, but I hope to.
Have you ever felt that there are problems in the world too big for you to face? That merely by being aware of them, they weigh you down, giving you a nagging sense of guilt or unease? For me, they’re like creeping vines, spreading over a world I once viewed with bright optimism and youthful wonder. The realisation that I’ve been one of the luckiest and most privileged human beings to have lived in all of history wasn’t an easy one, because it’s the only life I’ve had. And I don’t just mean because I’m a middle class Westerner, compared to the stereotypical starving African; I mean I live better than the kings of centuries ago, and I’m very likely to live better than the middle class will in centuries to come.
Let me digress. The Cold War intrigues me. How did the average US or Soviet citizen, or for that matter anyone with access to international news coverage, deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis? A Doomsday Clock poised near midnight, global superpowers with itchy trigger fingers, and the relatively recent specter of multiple World Wars. In those conditions, how could someone build a career, raise a family, invest in their future? How many forms of expression and the breaking of inhibitions were catalysed by the idea that there may not be a tomorrow?
There it was, the threat of extreme loss of human life and profoundly negative impacts on our society, simmering away. Importantly, it wasn’t under the control of John Smith at the corner shop. The powers responsible for military and political maneuvers could, perhaps, be spoken to with petitions and protests and demonstrations, but we didn’t collectively have our finger on the button, a button that could be the cause a global problem. And perhaps because of that, regular lives could be lead, the problem could fade into the background of public consciousness because most people weren’t in a position of responsibility.
Now we have our finger on the button. Read more