You can't be a switched-on power advocate at all times

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 8:20 PM | comments: 0

The explosions in Beirut yesterday elicited immediate feelings of sadness and concern, and I'll be honest, the second feeling was, "Now this?"

I am generally an empathetic human being, and I've learned over the years that I am deeply emotional, if not always having the right skills to process the emotions. I guess I'm saying that I'm probably not that different from most people. At some point in my life, as I'm sure others have, I noticed the way that some people were treated differently, had a more difficult life or otherwise needed help, and being an empathetic human being, felt some moral obligation to help others. Again, probably not unusual. Over the years I've tried to advocate for people in the obvious ways, wanting to counter racism or push for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, etc. I am wholly unremarkable in this progression.

Then Covid-19 happened, and then in the middle of that systemic racism came to the front of the conversation, where it should have already been. Meanwhile, rampant unemployment and fiscal carnage is happening everywhere, and we're all trying to find some kind of "normal" and control in the chaos. It's a lot to deal with.

I'm here to say that you don't have to deal with it all, 24/7. You sure as hell don't have to maintain an appearance that you're doing it 24/7 on social media. (I don't understand the desire or source of energy to maintain any persona on social media, but that's a different post.) You don't have to feel bad about not being plugged in at all times. In fact, I would argue that it's kind of arrogant and a little narcissistic to suggest that you've got the answers and you're going to change the world at all costs. You don't likely have the mental bandwidth to do that. It's OK to tap-out now and then and let someone else take it. The shit shows will be there when you're ready to jump back in and engage.

It wasn't just my feelings of exhaustion that got me thinking about this, I noticed the same predictable pattern on social media, especially on the Twitter. A bad thing happens and everyone posts in solidarity for a few days about it. While this generally builds awareness and cultural empathy, it's only a first step. Action is what moves things toward resolution of problems. Yes, it's great that we can all agree that #BlackLivesMatter, but we have to follow that up with action by engaging with government, especially at the local level, advocating for voting rights, thoroughly researching who we vote for, donate to appropriate organizations, etc. And by the way, no one expects that you should be doing those things 24/7 either.

You're a good, empathetic human being. Do what you can.


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