Monday, August 08, 2011

where to begin?

another rainy day.
it seems like the world is full of turmoil and uncertainty. stock markets are down. starving people are meandering across africa. the syrian government is killing civilians. there are riots in london. fundamentalists of all stripes are getting bolder. the polar ice caps are melting. and the US congress is behaving like an unsupervised kindergarten. no wonder our television screens are full of senseless "reality" programs - we need escapism. because the world certainly looks hopeless. and it doesn't seem like there are any true leaders in the world with a single clue about getting a handle on it.

we had a lively conversation the other evening about whether it's even possible for individuals to make a difference anymore. i know i certainly can't think of anything that i could do (tho' i did spend some time today wondering if there wasn't an app in it). and a friend, whose job in television puts her in a position to have an effect on the wider culture, admitted that making denmark's next prime minister would be considerably less fun than making denmark's next top model.  and while it made me laugh (i do like me some cynicism), it also hits on a truth...if things aren't fun, we simply don't really want to do them. and saving the world would be some seriously hard work (unless there IS an app for that).

it seems like such a hopeless mess that setting whether or not i'm having fun aside, i wouldn't have a clue where to begin. it seems like even a small amount that you might give towards hunger in africa never makes it to those who need it...the big aid organizations have such a bureaucracy behind them that the vast majority of a donation goes to support that. we talked the other night about if it were possible to get even just a fraction of the food we are wasting in our part of the world to the people who need it, what an impact it could have. but so many regulations and rules and laws and transport issues stand in the way that we talked ourselves out of it before we even discussed it properly.

it must somehow be possible to somehow harness all of these social networks and all of the thoughts, ideas and innovations going on and channel them towards something good, don't you think? but where to begin? (maybe we should ask steve jobs.)

10 comments:

Jess said...

I tend to think like that also, but I read this and it gave me a sliver of hope yet again...maybe it will you as well -
http://msf.ca/blogs/jamesm/2011/05/msf%E2%80%99d/

Lost Star said...

I'm sitting here watching BBC news as it reports live on riots spreading across the UK (London and Birmingham).

It is, quite frankly, terrifying. There was a single spark and rather than peaceful protest, we have riots and looting and entire buildings being destroyed. It is nothing more than thuggery and theft.

This is my country. This is my life. It does nothing other than damage society and damage the reputation of those of us who prefer peaceful mechanisms for making a point.

That said, this is not about making a point. Not anymore.

I feel helpless to do anything with regards to anything that has occurred. What can we do? We don't control the stock markets, we don't control the US congress; we can't force them (although, as a citizen of the world I feel that I should have a say when the decisions they are making impact on my life) to make decisions that will stabilise the world economy. We can't stop the fundamentalists, and we can only try to help those in need.

Maybe what we need is an app that can get like-minded people linked into one arena to brain-storm how we can help? Ideas like Kickstarter seem to work fabulously. There must be a way to generate that support into something more helpful to the world as a whole, or maybe even a segment of society. There must be a way to stop waste and pass on the excess. There must be a way to hold the US Congress to account over the debt it is maintaining, there must be a way to call a halt to the Syrian government.

We (as a society on Earth) should get together and fix it. We should have the power to do that.

It's just, like you said, where do you start?

(Sorry for rambling there. Not sure it even made so much sense. It's pretty late and the BBC is frying my brain with all going on only a couple of hours away from me!)

Molly said...

you changed the picture - required something bleaker?
WV - badev. definitely bad developments all over. sucks.

Extranjera said...

Even if you give and all of what you give ends up in the payment for the electricity bill of a charitable organization, it might mean that a donation given by someone else ends up paying for those precious grains of rice that otherwise would have been left in some hangar or on some field and never made it to those who will die without just that rice.

Always give as much as you can. Education, money, knowledge, love, rice, medicine, advice, compassion.

If not for everyone doing their share and being the best they can be, what in the hell is a devout atheist supposed to believe in these days?

Bill said...

You've posed a question which has been rattling around for generations ...

In the 60s, political activists wanted to save the world and discovered they could only save themselves and possibly one other person, one at a time.

Today is shattered by so many and different problems ... where to begin? Starving people? People missing limbs from land mines? AIDS? Slavery? Over-population?

How about our dying oceans? The lack of drinking water? Top-down mining? Nuclear waste?

We know there are small steps ... donations to micro-economies, education and peace ... but are those things enough?

Lost Aussie said...

DH and I had a very similarly themed discussion the other night. It's all a great big mess and the people in charge seem to be making it worse not better.
Short of finding the "reset" button and giving it a good long press, I have no idea what to do that will make a difference.

Karen said...

Here in America we're pretty disgusted with our own government at the moment. HOpeless comes to mind.

I often think as you do... and sadly I don't see a clear path to righting all the wrongs... or even leaders who could ever possibly get us there.

Loredana said...

That's how I feel when I see all these causes and celebrities funding and helping out and asking for help and telethons...I wonder how much it helps? How many people it won't get to? How much more help we need? There is just TOO MUCH and it comes down to the fact that MAN CAN NOT DO IT! It is humanly impossible to take care and resolve it all, all the famine, war, riots, disasters, ozone layer, all of it is so out of hand that yes you're right we need reality t.v. for escapism. You know many a days I don't watch the news or read the paper because I can't bear to read any more or hear any more. I know it's there, I hear snippets of it through people as i pass them on the street but it's also a shame that we in America are blinded by so much of what REALLY is going on as well.

When I travel to Italy and watch the news there that's when my mouth really drops, that's when you see the real REALITY of it all.

Where do you begin? And when you begin how do you end up helping everyone? It's a Catch 22!

Veronica Roth said...

How about right here, right now, we have food shelter and warmth. Some of us even have love. That’s a lot more than some people have right now in the world. From having these basic necessities, we also have a clearer perspective on life, (not having to worry ourselves sick over having these basic necessities) and are able to affect change, some change; not all change, maybe not even enough change to make us, (or some) happy. While certainly opening ourselves to criticism, speaking our minds and putting the word out into the collective unconscious is something which we can do and is something which will, with time, affect change.

Cyndy said...

In situations such as these, I often rely on re-reading classics which had a socio/political/economical impact. They often give perspective, solutions and much fodder for thought. And I read the news as opposed to watching it. These two things alone give a bit of quiet and calm thinking which I think is quite necessary in any crisis. As to whether one person alone can make a difference? I am reminded of Lee Iococca's autobiography, which has stuck with me for nearly 20 years. Essentially he suggested that if we are to make any change, we must first start with our family and our own home. Then we need to work on our neighborhood (will never forget the passage where he said we need to leave our backyard decks hidden by privacy fencing and get back to our front porches). Then we work on our local government, then state, then nation, then world. He proposed that we must work on these areas, in concentric circles, in order to build a solid foundation. He further advocated that no serious change could happen unless this order was followed. Put the idea to test (try any situation: money, food, bigotry, etc. and you will see this makes a lot of sense). And there is some comfort in knowing that if we follow this practice, and the wider circles crumble, that we will still have strength at our core. I think the principles would apply the same in the internet world and there is definitely potential for strength at the core of blogging communities > media > political forums > etc. We don't need an app, but we do need to act. And it all starts with conversations like this. Thank you for that...