Attn: Good People - Do You Have Apocalyptic Anxiety?
Each morning when I turn on the TV or scroll through my social media I am bombarded with what feels like apocalyptic news. It makes me feel incredibly sad, anxious and helpless. And angry. I get infuriated at those that don’t hold the same world view as mine and I want to strangle almost any politician I see on the screen. Since the death of George Floyd and the protests being held all around the world, I’ve reached my capacity for behaving normally in times of stress.
What happened to George is not new. It’s not even unique to the USA. What’s different is that now we can all see. We are unable to deny what is right before our eyes, yet so many try to. So much of what is wrong in the world today is preventable, yet our greed has ensured that those we voted into power will not act if it hurts the bottom line. Politicians and those that wield power actively encourage social division because it keeps them strong.
Climate change, bush fires, Covid-19, domestic violence, racism, sexism, LGBTQIA+ rights, workers’ rights, the concentration camps that Australia runs off-shore, the sheer lack of empathy for other human beings and disrespect for science and facts all make my heart break.
My heart feels like it is held together by sticky tape.
Not one of these things have directly impacted me. Not one. I am a middle-class white mother of 2 gorgeous boys. I did not vote in the conservative government that we endure today, but I have to live with the consequences of other people’s greed, ignorance and choice. My boys will inherit an earth that is almost damaged beyond repair and a society that is incredibly disconnected from its own humanity.
The world we are leaving them and my inability to do anything about it is what causes my anxiety. The pain that other people are experiencing hurts my soul. I can see the future we are headed toward. I’m not sure there is time to make the changes necessary to create a positive, safe world for my kids, and yet they will be so much better off than millions of others.
It’s not helpful to be so gloomy. And it reminds me of a famous saying:
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill, 1867.
I donate to causes, I sign protests, I vote in a way that I think will change things, I am vocal, I try to inspire others or to help them see things in a new light. I try to teach my boys kindness and empathy and how the world really works. “Follow the money,” is a regular line in our house when we’re all wondering why some awful new thing is happening. Invariably following the trail of money and power will provide the answers.
Today I had to turn off the news, put some classical music on Spotify, diffuse some lavender oil and write about how I was feeling. These things helped to calm me, but not far from my mind is the fact of my privilege. If I can feel this upset, just imagine how people directly affected by the awful things happening in the world today are feeling. Put yourself in their shoes for just a moment to help you gain perspective. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us stop doing nothing, we can change things for the better - but we’d better bloody hurry.