An exhaustive rant

June 24, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Anthony Carnovale

Sigh. These are some wild and crazy times. It feels as if the world we once knew has been blown to bits, and we’re destined to spend the rest of our days trying to put it back together. In so many ways, we‘re reconfiguring what it means to be a neighbour, a citizen, an ally, a human being. From the left and right (politically and figuratively) our heads (at least mine is) are gnawing on issues like race, poverty, homelessness, gender norms, migrants, refugees, social media, food prices, housing prices, climate, education, politics, COVID. In some ways, it’s exciting; in others, it’s terrifying. 

And all of this is happening in an age where so much information is at our disposal. We have access to more information than at any other time in human history, and all it seems to have done is bury us under a mountain of confusion and chaos. In 2018, Forbes reported that the average person created 2.5 quintillion bytes of information per day. What? I mean, what does that even look like? FYI: there are 18 zeros in a quintillion. How do you process and make sense of all of this information? 

The answer is easy: we don’t. With all of this information, we still want to close our eyes, dream, and believe that the solutions to societal problems can be easily fixed, or maybe attributed to some nonsensical conspiracy theory. The answers are there, somewhere in all of that data, we just need the skills, and desire, to access it, synthesize it and create something new from it. Not many people know how to do this This is why so-called experts have taken over our lives, our televisions, our social media feeds.

The problem is, I’m not sure I can trust the people we’re told to trust. From what I’ve seen, they’ve contributed as much to the chaos as an army of trolls on social media. Is CNN not as much a part of the problem as Fox News? Anderson Cooper? Chris Cuomo? They’re circus performers trying to hypnotize you with hyperbole and self-righteousness. Does the Toronto Star have a hate on for Doug Ford? If so, can I trust that they’re telling an unbiased story? CP24 wants you to think that there is nothing but violence and crime (punctuated by silly contests and cornball presenters to help lighten the mood). Bias sells: bias keeps people watching, clicking, liking, sharing. 

Where’s the respite?

There are moments, brief moments: a long walk, a short run, reading with my children. I’m reminded of a line from a Fernando Pessoa poem: “No matter, I’ll stay here dreaming verses and smiling in italics/This spectator aspect of life is so amusing!” It would be so nice to not have to think, to just sit back and watch, to…and just when I thought I had a chance to breathe, housing prices are going through the roof, the rich are getting richer, hate crimes are on the rise, mass graves are being uncovered, Facebook is mining my personal data, food prices are out of whack, and we’re still living with COVID. 

I’m exhausted; something needs to give. If our institutions are failing us, we need to demand more; we we need to act. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out what that action could look like. Marching? Writing? Civil disobedience? While I go back and forth between choice A and B: cue Breaking News: Black man killed by police serving warrant; War breaks out in the middle east; Condo developer plans to buy $1-billion worth of single-family house for rental units. 

I understand that having choices is a privilege. I know people that don’t have a choice, people, that by the nature of their circumstances, don’t have the luxury of picking their battles. I need to do something with my privilege. And quickly. The other day I discovered that my pension plan is heavily invested in technology that the Chinese government is using to persecute the Uyghurs. How can I sit back and allow my money to fund a genocide? 

It’s all so complicated. 

I know we can’t fix everything all at once. What I do know is that we can’t fix things on our own. And that’s why trust matters. We have to find a way to trust one another again. We have to get to a place where we can trust that each person will do their part in making the world a much easier place to live, love, dream and thrive. 

How do we get to that point? I don’t know. Maybe we need to acknowledge that it’s impossible to make sense of all the nonsense. We have to be okay with knowing that we don’t have to have the answers to all the questions that perplex us and keep us up at night. In the words of Thomas Merton: “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” 

Hope: it’s a complicated thing. 

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