Every once an awhile I need a news fast. Sometimes it all just seems so grim, and so much of it I can do nothing about. I can push and push over here, and nothing will happen for the horrible situation in Somalia. I can send positive thoughts to the people of Haiti, but there isn’t enough money in my pockets or energy in my body to stop the failures there. I hear about gangs and drugs and destruction and abandoned youth, and I can’t stop any of it or even help in a small way. I see the rich pulling strings to increase their wealth without thinking of the hundreds of people they will bankrupt, but there isn’t enough goodwill to stop it, and my voice isn’t loud enough to stop them. Or to even be heard.
It’s all pretty discouraging. I’d like to believe in Margaret Mead’s statement about the power of a small group to change the world, but you know what? That small group is already changing the world, and they are rich and powerful beyond the means of we ordinary folk and sometimes it just seems too huge to contemplate taking them on. It’s exhausting to contemplate.
Especially when you are stuck listening to bigots and racists and sexists and crusties and people who persist in creating hatred about people. Or people who belittle small progress and make it seem insignificant, which, in many ways, yeah, it probably is – but small progress is still progress. These people use this grumpiness to allow them to do nothing towards solving problems, and it’s true, sometimes I feel like joining them. It’s comfy with my head in the sand. It’s cool, and no one bothers me.
But then, something sweet happens. Someone goes out of their way to be pleasant, to help someone with a little problem, to share. It’s like grass through the concrete surrounding old missile silos – it provides hope in a hopeless world. Someone speaks up about a privacy violation, a la Murdoch, and an empire falls. Someone makes enough noise, and the Halifax harbour is cleaned up. A group of people spend a day rescuing a confused whale. It probably dies anyway, alas, but the process changes the people, and the impact is felt further than just with that one confused creature (who probably does appreciate that someone noticed it beached itself.) And it is inspiring. People join in, and the movement gets bigger – and just before it becomes trendy, a whole lot of small good things happen. The small good things give people hope, and they do more good things, and it grows.
And then the haters and nasties get on the news and mess everything up again, with talk only of bad things people do to people, because, according to the news folks, that’s what WE want to see. Not me.
Perhaps the solution to those people who refuse to see anything good in the world these days is to beach them and then help them out to sea like the whales. They’d probably complain about ocean pollution all the way out. But then there would be blessed, blessed silence. And the gratitude of sharks.