Do you think there’s an actual point at which you just can’t take any more bad news?
I’m a bit of a news junkie. I like to know what’s happening in the world. Most mornings, the first thing I do is turn on the radio to get the early news bulletin so that I can get some idea of the shape of the day. Lately, though, all that’s been happening is one horror after another, culminating this week in one of the saddest news stories I’ve ever heard in my country, a story which will stay at the forefront of my mind for a long time to come. I’m just not sure I can take any more news which breaks me open like a sledgehammer to the chest, and I wonder if I should just stop taking it all in, for a while at least.
I know, before anyone suggests it, that I have a cheek to write a blog post like this when none of these dreadful news stories are about me directly and they have no personal impact on my life – and believe me, I’m aware of how lucky I am – but as a human being who is engaged with the world and who has empathy for her fellows, it does affect me. I have wept painful tears this week at the needless loss of life, the horrors perpetrated on children by their parents, the dreadful sorrow of those left behind after an accident, the waste of humanity that occurs whenever power structures begin to rumble into place and governments rise or fall; I’ve wept because it’s always the powerless, the average person, the individual like me, who is crushed beneath the wheels of change or between the teeth of revolution.
It makes me afraid that one day I won’t be the lucky one any more, and that one day it will come for me, too. It makes me afraid to live in a world where these things can happen. It makes me wonder what I can do, if there’s anything at all, to help.
I am a person with a limited set of skills. I can’t change the world through politics or diplomacy, or with money or influence; all I can do is put words together into sentences, and hope they’re good enough to read. But if everyone did what they could – in fact, if everyone was permitted to do whatever they could, however humble – to add their thread to the picture, then I think we’d be in a much better position. However, because there are so many in the world who are not allowed to add their voice to the collective melody, it’s even more important that all of us who can do something actually do it. I am a privileged person – free, healthy, and protected – and I owe it to those who possess none of these gifts to do whatever is in my power to make the world better for those who will come after us.
I may never be a successful writer, but I hope I’m a successful human being. That, after all, is the most important thing any of us can do.
I hope everything in your corner of the world today is good, and peaceful, and happy, and I also hope that tomorrow, I’ll be in a more positive frame of mind.