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A twisted braid of dread and hope

23 October 201812:00AMrantslife

So I have some things on my mind.

strand one

The first is that we as a species seem to be dead set on trashing our planet.

I know that's nothing new, but a couple of things really drive it home for me lately. Most recently, that the system is telling me that I need a new phone, that I need to replace these gadgets even though there are tons and tons of e-waste leaching toxic heavy who knows what into who knows where. There's no way for me to opt out of that system.

Even if ethical technology were possible, I don't have the time or the energy to stop my life and put everything on hold and figure out how to not participate in something that I think future generations will look back on and see as thoughtless and perhaps inherently evil because I'm caught up in the same treadmill as everybody else.

strand two

So we're trashing our planet. But somehow we're also managing to trash our society.

Social media has become the way we structure information in our society, and it has completely devalued truth in pursuit of advertising revenue - trying to sell us stuff. And traditional media has increasingly jumped in on that, and realised that the the way to get ad views is driving ever bigger wedges between people and manufacturing conflict instead of unity - because that's what gets clicks.

We buy all this stuff we don't need at enormous cost and it doesn't even make us happy.

strand three

And I could ignore all of this if it weren't for the third thread in my glorious tapestry of dread. I could deal with all of this while I was doing something that I cared about. While I was spending my time on things that got me fired up. Things that maybe weren't making a much of difference in the global scheme of things, but that were at least making a difference to me and the people I interacted with.

But it's harder to see how that all fits together now. I'm pulled in lots of directions instead of just one.

Despite all the critical thinking in the world I am still falling into the same well-worn path of least resistance as every single other human in rich western society where I'm chasing a destructive, conventional life and I didn't even notice it happening.

I didn't even notice it happening.

We didn't even notice it happening.

But for some reason we chose now to wake up to this, only now that it's too late, and I don't know if any of us have the commitment to claw it back.

So where's the titular hope?

Weirdly, I think the answer might be... politics?

strand four

I don't think I'm alone in this feeling, and I don't think that this is necessarily the solution for everyone, but I have been finding it really theraputic to get involved with a political campaign. Specifically, the Greens campaign for Swan.

I helped run a doorknock last weekend, and it was amazing.

It feels good to be doing something, to chip away at changing minds. It feels good to be doing something i'm good at; talking to people and thinking about audiences and messages and how we line those two up as efficiently as we can. It feels good to be doing satisfying busywork; planning events and doing briefings and evaluating data.

And it is nowhere near as much of a commitment as I thought.

Part of this is proximity: it helps that the candidate sits at the desk across from mine. But the other part of it is literally that all they need from you is to be yourself. Not a representative, not a policy nerd - just a person with opinions, to go out and have a conversation.

Because at the end of the day, that's how we change things.

And maybe that's not for everyone - not everyone is good at or enjoys those things, and not everyone aligns neatly, or at all, with a political party. I get that.

But everyone has something that's close to them - maybe you could do that instead.

It's empowering to have a channel through which you can act in a way you feel is making a difference and that is something I think a lot of us sorely need right now.

Go find something. Find something close. Something you can do. Something you can ease into.

It doesn't have to be this - but I'd love to see you there if it is.


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