It hurts to be aware

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I’ll talk about it again. V for Vendetta is the best comic book of all time. And if you get your hands on the paperback collection, you’ll be treated to a great story from the author, Alan Moore.

He found himself sitting in a pub one day, which seems like a pretty nice way to spend the day. He was watching the news while he enjoyed a meal and a few pints. When the pub owner’s wife came in near supper time, she turned the tv to some game show or another. According to Moore, she apologized and explained that she didn’t like the news, it was too depressing.

Yeah, she hadn’t seen anything yet. This was back in the eighties. 

Man, I feel her. It hurts so damn much to be aware of what’s going on right now. At least once a day, I’m consumed by rage over something I’ve seen on the news. 

It freaking hurts to know how many people are hurting. Those people at the border in concentration camps break my heart every single day. Children ripped away from their parents, innocent people who are seeking asylum (which is totally legal by the way) are being housed in the most inhumane way as possible on purpose. It hurts to know that women are losing our rights to decide what happens to our bodies. 

And let’s be real, the news is also scary as hell. I am worried, daily, about a long list of things that I can’t do anything about! I’m worried about the bees. I’m worried about housing costs, and how stupidly expensive it is to even live. I’m worried about what we’re doing to our planet, and if we’re going to be able to keep it habitable. I’m worried about the polar bears, the tigers, the lions. All of the endangered animals. I’m worried about the fire ants infesting America. (Why are polar bears endangered and these damned little fire ants are flourishing. How is that fair?) I’m worried about getting shot at a garlic festival because apparently, that’s a thing that could happen to anybody. I’m a little worried someone might find me for my anti-church and pro-gay opinions, and try to shoot me. I’m worried about a whole slew of other things, too, but there’s only so much room. And you’re probably worried about all the same shit anyway, so it’s not like I’m telling you anything you don’t already know.

It hurts, it hurts so damn much, to be aware. And there are days when I just want to put my head down and keep my eyes on my own work.

But that’s how things got so bad in the first place. Because too many of us are doing just that. We’re not taking action, because we’re not aware, because it hurts too bad. 

Look, I get it. But there are things you can do that will help you stay aware, but not break your heart. One thing I do is to have one day a week, Sunday, where I don’t read or seek out the news. I stay off social media altogether on Sundays. I don’t check my email, either. Those who follow me on social media will note that I don’t post anything, even though I use an automatic poster and could easily schedule posts and not have to look at social media to do it. But still, I don’t. That day is kept sacred. That day I permit myself to look away.

I also try to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. I can call and write my elected officials. I can put political pressure on them. I can send money to candidates that are supporting the changes we need to make. I can share things on social media that help other people be more aware, too. Kind of like what I’m doing right now. 

If we focus on what we can’t do, it’s easy to sink into depression. But there’s always something we can do. We can always use our voice. But we can’t do that if we don’t know what’s going on. 

And as Alan Moore says, don’t turn off the news. Even when it hurts.

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