Thursday, June 18, 2015

It never stops (on the terrorist attack last night)

There's a reason I don't follow the news.  It isn't just that I can't take the constant barrage of bad news, it's that I can't take the fact that no one, ever, seems to give a shit.

Or, when they do, everyone else makes such a show of not giving a shit about them giving a shit that they're effectively silenced no matter what they do or how dedicated they are (see: Occupy Wall Street.)

I have known people who are able to weather the twin forces of pervasive evil and pervasive apathy that cause the news to spiral me into depression, inaction, and curling up into a ball.  I have known activists.  I have known people who are instigators, organizers, and agitators, one in particular comes to mind.

I don't know how they do it.  I don't know how they can manage to keep on going when they work so hard and so long and yet constantly be reminded that it never, ever stops.

Sometimes, though, the news breaks in on me even though I keep it out.  I am in and of the world, after all, I can hardly avoid the whole of it.

And so, via Fred Clark, I learned about the terrorist attack that happened in Charleston last night.

In some ways the worst part isn't what happened.  That, in itself, is terrible and horrifying.  How could nine people being killed in an act of terrorism not be the worst part?

Because it won't stop at nine.  It will happen again, and again, and again.  It won't stop.  It never stops.

It never stops because when a white person strikes out against black people, say by walking into a church with important ties to the entire history of the black community in the area and shooting a bunch of people, we, as a culture, don't give a shit.

This kind of terrorism is the kind that we, as a culture, are ok with.  We don't even call it terrorism.  We deny it a name and in so doing act like there isn't a problem, and because we refuse to recognize that there is a problem we don't look for solutions.  Because we don't look for solutions we don't find them, and if they are found for us we don't implement them.

And because we don't solve the problem that we refuse to acknowledge, it will happen again, and again, and again.  Ad infinitum.

And that's the worst part.  What's worse than nine people being murdered in an act of terrorism?  The fact that it will not, under any plausible circumstances, stop at nine.

It never, ever, stops.

And that's why I don't follow the news.

I don't know what it is that allows some people to perpetually fight a battle they know they can't win while immersing themselves in news that reminds them that we have made so much less progress than most people pretend we have, but whatever it is, I don't have it.


  1. I don't know that I'd call myself an activist in any real sense, but I think what separates me in particular from that despair is the truth-telling instinct. Like, these activists, these agitators, these advocates and authors are speaking the truth - they are describing the world accurately and eloquently - and in my mind that always seems worthwhile. I could talk about the signs I see in which I think it is not hopeless (signs that may be illusory), but in terms of my own psychology, I think it's just the truth that makes me stick it out.

    Even then, I definitely have to sign out sometimes and look at cute pictures elsewhere on the Internets.

  2. My only answer to this is the starfish story.

    MLK knew about the long arc... sometimes the emphasis is on how smooth the curve isn't?

    Also I feel like the idea of struggle (an active noun, like love...) is much more helpful than ideas about winning or losing. If something is worth fighting, you fight it. Not all the time; there are a lot of important things to do in life, and you have to be strong and healthy enough for whatever activist or support role you want to fill. But wherever and whenever you can, and with any and all help that's available.

  3. Also things like this call for the right kind of music.

  4. (Catching up.)

    In the UK we have a magazine called Private Eye. Every fortnight it comes out with details of the dodgy dealings that businessmen, politicians, and others are up to. Almost all the time, nothing comes of it. I've given up reading it because it's too dispiriting.