Earlier this week, I came across a thread by a woman who works in IT. She describes a coworker who’s had Covid five times.
Her remarks have gotten almost 4 million views by now, so there’s a good chance you already know what I’m going to say. He brags about his mild cases while struggling to answer basic questions in his area of expertise. He has trouble sleeping. He can’t write code anymore. He’s tired all the time.
He sends out blank emails.
His doctor believes he has “treatment-resistant allergies.” Both of them refuse to acknowledge the possibility of Long Covid.
I’m going to exercise some charity here and express how sad it is that so many smart, productive people have been so misled when it comes to their own health and happiness. Someone recently reminded me:
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
Most of the world is walking around with a deep pain inside them. They’ve been bamboozled one too many times.
It’s too painful to admit.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are simply unwilling to take on any more personal responsibility in their lives right now. I think I finally get it. If you’re working two jobs and raising kids or taking care of sick family, then you probably don’t love seeing a big list of extra things you could or should be doing for the sake of a future that feels more like a ghost than a promise.
For me, my consumer decisions feel like one of the last domains of agency I have left. So I take them seriously, but it’s probably not like that for a lot of others.
Then there’s the new report that we stand a 70 percent chance of breaking through the 1.5C threshold over the next five years.
Government officials in France are saying what climate scientists have been afraid to admit over the last year, that we’re probably going to see 3 or even 4 degrees of warming in our lifetimes.
The bamboozle just gets deeper.
A lot of us are genuinely wondering, what’s the point?
What’s the point of working extra jobs and side hustles if everything just keeps getting more expensive? What’s the point of protesting and advocating (and voting) if every politician just bows down to the fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries? What’s the point of having kids if you’re going to spend every day for the rest of your life worrying about their future and working all the time, just to protect them from the growing number of threats out there?
Some of us would prefer not to think about any of this, but as any good psychologist will tell you, that doesn’t help.
It makes everything worse.
You know, 90 percent of our emotional distress has nothing at all to do with the end of civilization or even the very real decline in our life expectancy and standards of living. We’re not that fragile. We can deal with that. For us, the absolute worst part of all is having to play along with the bamboozle.
It’s the constant cheerleading for the war industry.
It’s all the green-washing.
It’s the nasty messages from strangers who think we’re too pessimistic, too optimistic, too radical, or too conservative.
It’s the climate activists who insist your individual actions don’t matter. It’s the CEOs who sit around all day calculating how much more someone will pay for a bag of chips or a box of cereal.
It’s the clickbait articles encouraging you to get rich by screwing someone over. It’s millionaires talking about your poor spending habits, when your apartment costs $2,000 a month, and it’s the cheapest one you can find. It’s doctors saying stuff like, “Society will get used to 300,000 more deaths every year.”
It’s economists scoffing at steady-state economies.
It’s watching strangers lose their last ounce of compassion.
That part hurts.
That’s why, last year, I finally took up meditation—and not in that Silicon Valley way. A large part of me needs to sit quietly in a room with dark ambient music for an hour, just decompressing.
During meditation, I’ve realized something else:
You don’t really need to be an outspoken activist to make a difference. You don’t have to take on the fossil fuel industry by yourself. You’re not a coward if you’re not ready to rush out into the streets against police in riot gear, who will crush your bones and call it an accident.
We don’t need everyone to do that.
These days, simply wearing an N95 mask is a form of activism. Taking care of someone is a form of activism. Buying less plastic is a form of activism. Reading a book is a form of activism.
Being kind to someone is a form of activism.
(It’s not the same as being “nice.”)
Talking to someone about facts is a form of activism. More and more, just hanging on to human dignity is a form of activism.
Taking a nap is a form of activism. Getting a good night’s sleep is a form of activism. Sitting down and relaxing is a form of activism. We desperately need more people who can just think straight. We desperately need more people who aren’t rushing around with their raw emotions spilling out everywhere. And yet, we also desperately need more people to express their emotions, instead of just suppressing them until they explode outward in fireballs of rage and hate.
We desperately need more calm people.
So before you worry about anything else, take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself used to be a form of activism. It used to be about recovering your spiritual and emotional center, not huffing goop.
It still can be.
Maybe one of the most radical forms of activism is admitting that you were wrong, that you got bamboozled, and dealing with the pain.
Just try your best. Take the risks you’re willing to take. Speak up when you feel the energy. Take breaks when you need them. Preserve your sanity. Sometimes you’ll make a difference when you least expect.
It’s all hard.
It all matters.
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May I put in a word for gardening, especially food, as a form of both activism and meditation?
Absolutely. I've taken up meditation this year as well and it has changed my life. I love listening to people tell me I'm a sheeple who believes everything the government says and lets fear rule my life while meanwhile I'm the only one for miles wearing a mask, doing my own thing, not caring what anyone thinks or says. Most people only value their health when it's gone. I'm trying my best to protect it while I've got it. I love your posts. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there so courageously. Your heart for truth is activism!