My Monday morning ritual is to listen to the radio for an hour while laying in bed, get ready and go to work, and then eat breakfast at my desk catching up on news blogs from over the weekend. It was kind of grim today. Some American soldier left his base and went to three civilian houses and killed the 16 unarmed people (mostly children) he encountered there. I mean really, how does it get this bad?
Someone in my high school class died. One person. It was the biggest deal in the world, and it should have been. You’re not supposed to die in high school in a car accident, it’s too early for people to learn to deal with this kind of loss.
It took years to recover from this. I thought about her literally all the time and it was really someone I knew only medium well. She lived in my neighborhood but we weren’t close. And I still think about her but I wonder how long this story about the kids is going to bother me. Am I going to stop being upset about it later today or tomorrow?
I think we only have a limited capacity to care about things, and its scary because the things in the world we should care about is probably unlimited. We will get on with our lives so easily. On New Year’s Eve a few years ago I was drinking with one of my friends when she stopped and said “I just remembered we are at war… and here I am partying.” I don’t know what made her think about it, but it drew a sharp contrast in my mind between today and what I think it was like during WW1 and WWII when people went without rubber and bread and whatever else because we needed it for the war. If you turn off the TV and choose not to be informed, you would never even have to know about wars anymore.
I had a personal relationship with this girl in high school. I knew what her voice sounded like, that she really liked American Eagle (it was really cool then), and that her birthday was on the fourth of July which I was jealous about for Springsteen-related reasons. She was a part of my community. But she wasn’t more or less of a person than these Iraqi kids and while I’m upset, I’m not grieving them with a fraction of the force.
Someone much more knowledgeable at psychology than I explained goals to me once. You are the most motivated to achieve a goal if it’s slightly above what you can reasonably expect to do. If your goal is too low or too high you lose your motivation to achieve it. There is so much suffering in the world, so much wrong, and so high above what anyone can reasonably expect to do. I need someone to make a strategic plan and break it down into reasonable steps or no one is going to be able to care long enough to do anything.