In the residue of something like this, you may be asking yourself -- and I am definitely asking myself -- whether there's anything you can do, whether feeling bad is any consolation for anyone, whether it might not just be better to let it wash over you and then get immersed again in the day-to-day events of your own life.
And of course that's what we do. Of course that's what I'm doing. The event is too big, and too fraught, and the moment we start talking about it with anyone it all spirals out of our control and it seems like the only rational reaction is the eventual shoulder shrug.
I'm not the guy who's gonna tell you to get on the horn to your congressperson, because I don't do it. I sit in my house and I read everything I can read, and I watch TV, and I'm horrified...but I don't do anything, because honestly in this exact moment there's nothing to be done. That's where we are with politics.
No, my mission with this Juggernaut project is to get people to experience these feelings. Be frustrated. Be pissed off. Be devastated. Keep being that for a while. We can't hold onto it forever, of course. I mean, I have to go grocery shopping this afternoon. But you know how on the podcast I keep mentioning cognitive dissonance? And how our culture seems designed to keep us anesthetized? This is what I mean. Institutional helplessness. Any rational person's reaction to institutional helplessness is to ignore. It sure is mine!
And the fact is...practically speaking, there really is very little we can do about Orlando, about homophobia, about terrorism (and let's just say Islamic folk don't have the market cornered on religion-based terrorism), about guns. You do what you can do, you try and be a good person...but are you supposed to go on a hunger strike? I don't know that a good end result here is all of us becoming radicalized in response. Educate yourself, try and vote responsibly, try not to let the people in your life get away with casual racism or sexism or homophobia...but otherwise?
Otherwise: my way of dealing with these realities and these feelings that really aren't very fun to feel...is to talk on this podcast about the cultural totems that don't let us get away with falling back asleep. For all of us, the change our culture needs is a long-term one. We have to program ourselves not to believe the corporate purveyors of pap designed to lock us inside ourselves. Because that's where the crazy comes from. When you're convinced you live the "right way," when the culture reaffirms what that singular "right way" is (usually you should have white skin and be very attractive and be able to afford a Manhattan loft that costs $5,000 per month in the real world)...that's the danger.
Empathy. Empathy is the path toward feeling better.
I want to recommend the first segment of Samantha Bee's latest show (original air date: 6/13). She's ticked off. She's nearly in tears. She's got a political point of view, and yes it happens to be a point of view I agree with. But more than anything...I'd like you to take note of what it's like to watch a person standing on a stage, on TV, in a context that is usually reserved for anesthetized yuk-yuks (ConanColbertFallonMeyersCordenKimmel) actually letting you in, actually portraying the real pain she feels. The segment was bitingly funny and, again, I agree with her. But even if you don't agree with her...I'd like for you to experience what it's like to watch someone on a major cable network actually portray pain.
I cried. It was just for a moment, but I really did.
It wasn't just the pain of those many dead and injured. It was also strangely (perversely, maybe) a little joyous, a feeling of connection. Good lord! That very famous person also feels this way! She's making it obvious! On TV! I never see this!
Peace to you. Tough to be a person sometimes.