“In other centuries, human beings wanted to be saved, or improved, or freed, or educated. But in our century, they want to be entertained. The great fear is not of disease or death, but of boredom. A sense of time on our hands, a sense of nothing to do. A sense that we are not amused.”
― Michael Crichton,
I feel like I’m living in an alternate reality or perhaps like I’ve been dropped inside the pages of a badly written dystopian novel. The last few weeks feel like a montage for news that should never happen. I turn on NPR, listen to the latest events, and shout, “WHAT?!” then change the station. I find myself avoiding social media. It’s too exhausting. It’s like living with a pony in your living room—a pony you’re in denial about it. Pony? What pony? I don’t see any ponies. (Steps over steaming pile of road apples.) But ignoring the situation doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make things LESS exhausting.
When I started blogging this year, I planned on focusing on me, on my life. When in doubt, keep your eyes on your own page. Yes, blogging is social media, but it’s social media I can control. But, it turns out…that’s exhausting, too. Because the metaphorical pony is STILL THERE. Even if I’m yakking on about organizing or whatever, I still feel the enormity of the events that are happening all around me, events that are completely out of my control. I don’t want to offend anyone, but there are things happening right now. Ignoring these events feels even MORE ridiculous than ignoring an imaginary pony.
I live in a small town in Michigan. If I left my home right now, I could be in Canada in under an hour. For those of us living near the eastern border of Michigan, traveling across the border into Canada is NOT a big deal. People live in Windsor, but work in the Detroit area and vice-versa. For us, it’s almost like crossing into another state, rather than another country. Our two countries are more alike than different.
Or so I thought.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that asylum seekers are crossing from the US into Canada illegally, that people are willing to risk their lives, to risk losing their fingers and toes in the frigid winter temperatures, rather than stay in the United States.
I consider the United States a “safe” country, a beautiful country. I thought the only people illegally crossing the Canadian border were people running from the law, not folks with children looking for a better life, afraid of being banned for being Muslim.
The United States is a place of freedom—freedom of speech and religion. The United States is a country that fights for equality. People seek refuge in our country. They come from all over the globe to be here, in the United States. But, then I see Canada’s Prime Minister’s tweet:
I wish my own leaders could learn from his example. Prime Minister Trudeau behavior is a positive influence in an uncertain world.
Meanwhile, back in the United States…we’re experiencing “Alternative Facts,” a fancy word for lies.
This isn’t a partisan thing: Democrats versus Republicans. This wasn’t a one interview slip up. Several interviews were given regarding this non-existent event. I guess this must be “Alternative Facts” in action, and yet I can’t imagine why anyone would say something like this, why anyone would want to create an imaginary massacre. Is reality is too boring? Now, we have to worry about nonexistent events, too?
It’s like we, in the United States, are running around, afraid of all the bad things might happen, logic is being thrown out the window. In my opinion, it seems like the United States is facing the “Mamma Hamster Effect.” We’re so afraid and stressed, we’re willing to harm the ones we SHOULD be protecting, like a mamma hamster killing her own young because she perceives her sacrifice is for the greater good. We are a reactive society rather than proactive. Stuff keeps happening…and we’re shocked. And entertained.
Alternative facts: We react with Tweets and Facebook posts.
Fake Massacre: An endless discussion ensues.
Are we so bored with our lives that we would rather be controlled by fear? We’re so afraid of change, we’d rather cling to erroneous beliefs? The political scene feels like a giant soap opera. Is it any wonder why many people are feeding on these distractions? It certainly is easier to be outraged and do nothing, than to be proactive and take charge of one’s life.
“I have more respect for people who change their views after acquiring new information than for those who cling to views they held thirty years ago. The world changes. Ideologues and zealots don’t.”
― Michael Crichton,
Pay attention to what is happening around you. Don’t ignore the metaphorical pony in the room because it’s inconvenient. See the sensationalism for what it is. Be proactive. Take control. Stand up for those who are afraid to speak. Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen. Do NOT allow yourself to be sucked into the ugliness. Allow your voice to be heard through your art and your writing. Do NOT stop living because of fear. Plan ahead. Be creative. Try new things. Educate yourself. Learn about other cultures. Don’t expect someone else to fix your problems but also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. We are together in this world—one people, the human race.