It is also true that caring as much as I do right now is negatively impacting my mental health.
My anxiety is through the roof. I haven’t felt this off-kilter since my depression was at its worst circa 2009-2011 and I was on the verge of failing out of college. I honestly have no idea how long I can keep up this level of mental stress. It’s affecting my schoolwork. It’s affecting my professional life. I can not deny for a second that caring about the state of America right now is causing me severe mental harm.
But if I am forced to choose between my own mental well being and the knowledge that my actions are moral and just and that I can live with myself and sleep at night because I did them, I must refute the nihilism that nothing I do matters. Because even if I am crushed by oppression, I will have the knowledge that through myself I affirmed the ability of people to be better.
How much less suffering would exist in the world if more of us were willing to recognize that every person — regardless of the color of their skin, their sex, their gender, their religion, their country of origin, their ethnicity — is worthy of respect as a human being and that we should build our society in such a way that defending the fundamental humanity of all was a skillset we were taught from a young age and taught to value above virtually all else?
But, instead, we have a system where when the political goings get tough, we’re taught that the system isn’t worth fighting. And that is a belief to which I can no longer submit.
Suffering exists because we selfishly choose to advance our own interests at the cost of others well-being. This is a fact that can no longer be ignored. And if you view your fellow man as equal to you and due the same protections under the law as you, you must then also feel that it is your duty to do something to eradicate suffering. Choosing to do nothing makes you complicit.
I wrote about this idea in a broader sense in an article I wrote for Vice which you can read here. We all, every last one of us, have a moral obligation to think about what our actions mean for others and, even more importantly, what it means when we aren’t willing to do something to help others. If you get to do nothing as suffering exists, then the continuance of that suffering is on you. I know that many people will read these words and not internalize them. They might give lip service, but they will not know how to engage with them in their heart as true. But I write to anyone who hasn’t been asked to think about these things before and who has the capacity to envision their actions leading to a more just world.
Because if we can’t envision a better world and better, more just versions of ourselves, then there isn’t a reason to keep going. I refuse to believe that’s the world that we live in. To quote Camus for the second time in two weeks, “it requires revolt.”