People Suck… Why Bother?
Yesterday, in the usual morning rush to get all the things I need to do done before racing off to work, I was greeted by the sight of the passenger window of my car smashed to shards all over the road. Some thug took it upon themselves to not only break into my car, but to pop the hood and steal the battery from my car. Who knows what the reasoning was? None of the other cars in the street had been touched, and it seems they chose my car because it was the easiest to break into. For the rest of the day I felt that my life had somehow been violated, and though the incursion was minor, my faith in humanity was wavering all over the place.
This is not the first time something like this has happened to my personal space. Our old rental property was broken into twice in 6 months, and while they stole what they could, none of the stuff that mattered was touched. They didn’t break furniture or pee on our toothbrushes, they just took whatever they could carry and whatever they could sell. But it’s not the fact that the thieves took my possessions that shook me. It was the fact that someone could willingly, and without permission, intrude into my personal safe-haven and do what they felt like doing in this, the safest space I know of, now compromised by the greedy opportunistic whims of some two-bit thugs.
After the glass in the window had been replaced, and all our possessions restored, thanks to the insurance policy we held on the property, it still took us a long time to feel safe in that space. The violation of our space was enough for me to hate humanity for a time. Not just the perpetrators, but the society that allows these kinds of incursions to happen. That someone can feel that it’s okay to do what they want to others, and take at will whatever they want in order to fulfill their wants and needs shows a severe lack of empathy for the fellow person. It sickens me any time something like this happens.
Why do I fight so hard for a species that causes so much damage to itself and to the world at large?
In Syria last week, the government military thought it was within their rights to use chemical weapons against their own citizens, killing up to 1,300 people in the process. In Egypt people are fighting with their own government against the regime they voted into power. In Bangladesh, atheist bloggers are being threatened with death for simply voicing their opinions. In India, gang-rape of women seems to be reported on an almost daily basis. People are subjected to some horrible things, and in this perspective the inconvenience caused by the theft of my car battery is certainly of small consequence to the world.
It’s easy to look at the world and see only doom and gloom. We are so interconnected, and so much closer to each other due to technology, that everything that happens to an individual or society is reported back to us instantaneously, and our morbid fascination with the plights of others is fed constantly. Our mass-media depends upon horrible happenings on the planet to make a dollar, and we feed on this like vultures at carrion. The world is now so small, in fact, that we become personally engaged with the struggles of others on a daily basis, and while we feel powerless to do anything about it, the simple act of being informed fills us with a sense of action, or reaction, to these goings on. What would have previously taken the heroic efforts of an investigative journalist to report, is now being beamed live from the phone cameras of standers by. It is instant, and it is on demand.
When I stop to think about this for a moment, I realise that no matter how much this intrusion into my space has shaken me, it is incredibly petty and self-focused of me to feel this indignation, when by comparison I am a highly privileged individual, who never has to ask for the things I need. I live in a relatively safe and secure environment, one where I can voice my opinions on politics, society, culture and religion without much fear of reprisal. The government in my country is relatively stable, and there are no wars being fought on these shores. I can feel relatively safe to walk the streets at night without fear of being stabbed, robbed, killed or raped, at least safe within reason. (There are always exceptions though, and I don’t need to remind you of these.)
From my relatively safe bubble, here in Australia, with power, clean water, food, a job, an education, access to anything I really need, that I feel compelled to speak out against those things I see as wrong in the world. I have an opportunity to do so that most in the world do not. I don’t have to fear for my life based on my speaking out.
I fight for humanity because I can, and for those who can’t.
Believe me, it’s easier to sit back and do nothing, but it would be remiss of me to do so. It is within that perspective that I can look at the theft of my car battery as just a minor inconvenience, but still one I have reported to the authorities. I can afford to replace the window and the battery (it’s coming out of my pocket because the amount of damage and theft falls short of the excess I’d have to pay.) But it really just amounts to inconveniencing me to being immobile in my suburb for a weekend.
Next time your day is “ruined” because someone is rude to you, or because the supermarket has run out of your brand of deodorant, or because someone cuts you off in traffic, try to put that into some kind of perspective. Ask yourself, have you been damaged? Is this something you can work around? Will the problem be solved if you just wait? Can you make due in the meantime? Most problems we encounter on a daily basis are inconveniences. Remember this, and you will be happier for it.