Pissing Against the Tide
It seems like a lot of folks in Left Blogistan are suffering bad-news-burnout these days, including some of the heavyweights (billmon and Kevin Drum, to name two).
I’ll admit that the bad news weighs on me sometimes, too, but I’m not ready to cliff dive just yet. I’ll further concede, though, it’s easy to see how getting immersed in apocalyptic discussions 24X7 can lead to tinfoil hat territory very quickly.
So allow me to switch your internal news channel for a few minutes. Let me tell you how my Friday went.
I work at a large, inner city non-profit agency. Every single day I see the good and the bad in a world gone mad.
As I was walking in the door this morning, our receptionist was telling me about a cousin who was shot and killed last night (must have been a distant cousin, because she wasn’t demonstrably upset or anything…). I commiserated with her for a few minutes.
A bit later, I saw a homeless guy digging through our dumpster. When I called out to him, he popped out and we started talking – he was looking for something to eat, and I explained to him that the stuff that was in our dumpster was there for a reason. I politely told the guy that I didn’t want him getting sick from eating something out of the dumpster, and I asked him if I could introduce him to someone inside our agency that could hook him up with good food. He did (believe me, some of the hungry and/or homeless don’t want that kind of help). We gave him a bus token and referral slip to a nearby agency that has a feeding program, and sent him on his way. Hopefully, he had a decent meal today.
One of the things that my agency has been struggling with is waste disposal costs. The nature of our business is such that we generate a lot of organic waste material. For the past year, I’ve been working on putting together a recycling program, and it’s just really come together and launched in the past few weeks. So, just before noon, I had the opportunity to attend a 3 hour conference (with free lunch!) at an industrial strength composting facility that is now taking our organic waste (10 tons at a whack). Yeah, I know, it wasn’t as exciting as the World Economic Forum conference in Jordan. But bottom line, our agency saves big money and we do our little bit for environmental stewardship, regardless of the setbacks that the Bush Administration has tried to deal Mother Earth in the name of corporate profits.
When I returned from the conference, I ran some quick weekly numbers. We’d distributed nearly 20 tons of food to the needy this past week. Plus, I’d finally shamed our forklift repair company into actually fixing (rather than bandaiding) one of our ancient lifts that’s been acting up for three weeks. Sometimes, little victories mean a lot.
At the end of the workday, I drove home, and (cue “Leave it to Beaver” theme music) walked in the door to the usual family conversations, trials, and tribulations.
So, that was my day. Was it any different than yours? There were bad spots. There were good spots. There were even a few affirmations that my life isn’t just focused on crap that I really can’t change. Just like you, I deal with mondo negative bad shit every day. And also just like you, I have the opportunity to positively contribute to solutions that contribute positively to the world around me.
I quit the corporate whoring when the internet bubble burst, not by choice necessarily, but I’ve never looked back. What I do in my vocation makes a difference in peoples lives, not the CEO’s quarterly bonus or director’s stock options. Maybe that’s why I have a bit of a different angle on the world around me. I know that one person can make a difference, at least on my little scrap of the planet.
Make no mistake (and you can certainly see it here on ASZ in my writing) – I get outraged and indignant and spitting mad. Sometimes, I really don’t understand the insane world around me. And maybe I’m fortunate that I can get out of the microcosm of bad news and actually apply a fix to some of the bad things around me. What I’m saying is that the darker forces in us have won when we focus exclusively on the dark side. My experience tells me that the only way to piss against the tide is to actually hang it out there. Otherwise, all you do is wet your pants.
On an unusually warm Friday evening in May, what’s really fortunate is that there’s a cold beer in the fridge and a game on the tube. I can already envision someone reading this tripe and saying, “that’s what’s wrong with the world”. No, it’s not. That’s what’s right with the world — that in amongst the noise of every day life, we can relax with a beer and watch a game. Whatever atrocities that are out there will still be there for me to worry about when the game is over.
So please excuse me while I go round out my day. I’m going to let this posting simmer until after the game, then I’ll edit it a bit and post it on up. And maybe I’ll do some more indignant Monkey Boy ranting tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.
Edited Saturday morning for inexcusable butchering of the English language…