All of us are participants in the continuous creation of this world. From our little corner, we add to its design and to its constant change. Through war, politics, commerce, by consuming and communicating, each and every one of us contributes every day in some way to it. We act in ways that contribute to a negative course of events, or we act in ways that lead to a more positive course of events. Or we don’t participate in anything at all, which also affects this world.
We, so called middle class, in the rich part of the world, form a completely unique group of people in the history of human beings. We are many. We are as a collective better educated than any large group has ever been. We enjoy greater material security. We are richer. Our lives are more comfortable, our nations more democratic, and we have more free time. So many have never been so free to say and do what they want to. Indeed, that is fantastic. Such a number of well-educated, qualified, free and rich persons completely lacks equivalent in the past. What makes us even more unique is the fact that we are so aware and know so much about the troubles and suffering in the world.
An intense drama is taking place around us. In our city, in our country and in other countries hardship, inequality, oppression, famine and war continues. In this world of ours, just like people of all times, we have to face difficult questions and choices: What is my business? How should I prioritize to allot my energy between my family, my work, my personal interests and such problems that are outside my family? Do I have a responsibility for something outside my sphere? Exactly where does this responsibility stop? How much could I reasonably manage to do? How bad does it have to get before I do something? And what would that be?
It’s a war inside us. We are so capable, and we know so much. And we are – just like people tend to be – equipped with common sense and a conscience. I may choose to pretend that we as individuals not are in a position to contribute to a better world and I may use that as an excuse for my passivity, but that only creates a feeling of unease somewhere in the stomach region. It’s simple maths: knowledge minus action equals frustration.
I guess it is possible for us to just keep on, letting our inner war run its course. We could do that. Or we can’t, and if that is the case we will have to let it surface. How many can live with the inner conflict, and for how long? How many cannot and what will they do? It is not unusual that oppressed people eventually revolts against an oppressive state. How do oppressed emotions treat their tyrant?
Parallel to our ever-growing insight in all the world’s problems we live our private lives, absorbed by dealing with sorrows and ails, sickness and crisis. Bitterly, we acknowledge that not even peace and prosperity could cure these things.
One might ask how well fit a human being really is to have insight in all the world’s conflicts. Are we not designed to merely solve those problems in our absolute proximity? The past century’s improved technology for mass communication has each year brought us greater and greater knowledge of problems located so clearly outside our private sphere or community.
Nobody asks why we should be aware of virtually everything. I assume it is good to be informed. But if this continuous and truly extensive enlightening that goes on for hours every day will be used by us, the enlightened, for nothing more than to wisely use our voting right once every fourth year – I cannot help to question if it’s really proportioned in regard to its usefulness.
We know a lot. We even know so much that we already understand that “we didn’t know” won’t be viable excuse if – hypothetically – someone in the future would ask questions about our inaction. Nobody would believe us. Rather, we will have to choose between “I didn’t have the energy”, “I didn’t have the time”, or “it wasn’t my business”.
Not being bothered by the pain in the world is probably comfortable. Complaining about those who doesn’t seem to care is probably not effective. To start thinking about how one can live life without sustaining problems – wherever they may be – is probably valuable.