“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
I’m torn – thinking of writing about issues. Social media fighting is pointless. People do not change unless they want to, or until circumstances are so tremendous that they have no other alternative but to change. Does writing make any real difference? Or do we just consume what feels good to us?
A couple years ago, I attended a bible study. We sat in a haphazard circle, and I remember, strangely, how loud the carrots I was eating sounded in my ears. I knew mostly everyone, but was not familiar. I attended because a friend asked. I was uncomfortable. A woman, a mother, was talking about how angry it made her seeing homeless people. She refused to give them a dime, she said. They should just get a job, she said. At bible study. Wasn’t Jesus homeless, too? I didn’t ask; I just ate my carrots.
We twist the stories to fit comfortably within our narrative. We go towards what is familiar. We stay in the same friendships, relationships, even if they aren’t good for us, and especially if they don’t ask us to change. We order the same food at restaurants, watch the same movie (or the various reincarnations of that same movie). We watch what is happening but change the channel when we’re asked to show empathy.
We mindlessly consume videos that are five seconds long; laugh at ostentatious 9-year-olds with foul mouths and bad behavior. We have become gluttons for outlandish behavior. We don’t think for ourselves. We want everything to be palatable; doctored with sugar, stripping away the truth until it tastes sweet. How often is the truth sweet? When asked to confront injustice, unfairness; when we are asked to think of something new, we get angry. We shout first, process later. Lead with our fists as our mouths open into vulgar shapes, cursing at everyone who looks different, who speaks different. We delete our Facebook friends that we haven’t seen in five years anyway. We sit back from the computer, from the interactions and online arguments, and realize that we’re the only one in the room. We’re alone.
How do we encourage earnest and open conversation, promote education that could actually lead to change – lead to the mere thought of change? Are we truly just sheep?
“Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.”
– Orson Welles
If someone else suffers in any capacity, can we ethically exist? What responsibility do we have to other people? Are we supposed to be vigilantes – a civilization of budget batmen? Are we entitled to enjoy our lives?
What is luck?
Luck is being born in America. To white parents. To English speakers. Luck is being born healthy and in the time of vaccines and inhalers. Luck is being a woman who is interested in men and feels comfortable in the body I was born in. Luck is being born somewhere education is free and to parents who are educators. Luck is being born in a middle class family who paid for my college education, who paid for my second vehicle, who were married when I was born and remain married now.
Yes, that’s privilege, but it’s also luck. I’m lucky because through the millennia of humanity, through brute force and carnage and blood and bone and fury, my future was shaped by the past. My future – the comfortability of my future – was dependent on those who wrote history. The past has shaped what we prioritize: we yearn for entitlement, a reason to be special, because we were told that we were. We want to believe that there is something so inherently different and unique about us that cosmically, we were destined to be important, to matter. Luck has molded our sense of national pride; has told us what is acceptable and what is alien. Luck allows me to suffer over the good and evil in the world, while there are thousands of children in internment camps right now, in my state. Afraid. Without their parents. Without fault.
Neither of us asked to be born. It was luck that I ended up where I am.
I did not earn my existence.