There’s a post over on Arun’s Musings where he starts:
Which world do we live in? Is it the idyllic world biking to the farmers’ market for fresh veggies? Or is it the dangerous world, where one has to learn about a lot of things fast, and constantly, in a mostly futile effort, raise one’s voice against lunacy, where one cannot afford to be ignorant about anything?
This got me thinking a bit about what Arun was getting at. Does he really think that those two worlds (one supposedly idyllic, the other dangerous) are disconnected? They certainly are not in my mind. Quite clearly connected. See the example (only one of many) in my reply to him reproduced below.
And on the first extract: First, let me say that I’m pretty sure he was not being critical or anything… merely commenting on the contrast. Nevertheless, it got me thinking: Is it really that we must all lament and yell loudly about the situation in the Middle East all the time? Even while there are others -more informed than I- saying it better and more loudly? Even if one might not neccessarily think that one has anything original to yell? Actually, I don’t know. I’m not one for political rants just for the sake of it. I just end up sounding shrill. Although I have my moments when I don’t care, and I just go for it…… But mostly, my own thought is that I don’t think it would preserve my sanity to infiltrate every aspect of my life with the depressing situations, and so -while I am not apathetic- I don’t feel obliged to scream and shout about it in my blog posts. If I think of or spot something somewhat new, or poignant, I’ll pass it on. But sometimes silent contemplation is not a bad thing. If there was nobody talking about it honestly, or if there were scarce few sources of good information out there, that would be another thing altogether. Remember the early days of Katrina, and how slow real information took to start coming out. Blogs were great and valuable sources then. Risa over on Cosmic Variance led the blogging team there in putting up a lot of posts on the aftermath, which some of our readers found to be of value, since it only came out in the mainstream in partial form, or not at all. I don’t feel that is the case here, but I could be really wrong. People are now much more aware of the craziness of the situations in the Middle East, and I don’t imagine ever being the go-to source for information or informed comment about the situation on the ground. Me going “yeah, me too, I’m pissed off!” does not seem a valuable contribution. I can (and do) contribute in other ways, I think. But I love that some people do just yell. Howl! It is good. We need voiced raised in chorus, on any issue worth speaking about. And war and the accompanying needless slaughter is one.
So anyway, this is what I wrote to Arun, who I believe means well:
Thanks for the link. I’d like to point out a couple of things though:
(1) There are several wars and large scale injustices of various sorts going on around the planet at any time. Considerably more than a couple, in fact. It is obvious that we live in both/all of the worlds that you mention. To take part in one is not inconsistent with taking part in the other. It is all connected, and -as I hope you’re aware- it is naive to think that they are not. The fact that I go on and on about biking everywhere (not just to the market to be fresh veggies) is not accidental. The not-so-subtle-to-detect subtext of my talking about biking and mass transit a lot on CV and (to come) on Asymptotia is to highlight our dependence upon oil, and the destruction of our environment, and to highlight that there are other choices about how we can run our lives. It is a modest effort to point up how we might all think about trying to do our part to stop that oil dependence. Now, what do you think most of the destruction taking part in the Middle East is about? What is the single most important point of tension on our planet today and for a long time before and for a long time to come? The West’s dependence upon oil. So choosing to blog about riding my bike to places and maybe result in new habits being formed that might make us more mindful of our energy sources… that’s just as relevant to the wars as anything. And perhaps a more original take than just sitting around wringing my hands about it…. which leads me to the next point:
(2) It is not clear what meaning there is to be gathered from the absence of me or anyone else tearing their hair out about the wars on their blog. Several, more well informed people are doing a very good job of it already, and also on the several other wars and injustices that you did not mention. I’d rather be silent, keep my (considerable) despair about the situations to myself and in private conversations than rush to go “me too!” for the sake of it. So I take part in discussions, read my share of the news, and go and listen to and support talks by voices not heard too loudly about some of the current situation. (Actually, if you search CV you’ll see posts of mine reporting upon some interesting public talks and gatherings about Iraq.) When the right thing comes along that is worth pointing out to my readers (a fact, or a point of view), I’ll be sure to do it, but not simply for the sake of doing so. It’s too obvious, and too redundant. That’s not why I blog.
It is great that you choose to add your voice to the chorus in the way that you do. Well done… but don’t interpret silence of others as indifference. And look closely at the subtext of what is being blogged about, since you might find that there are things being said. Just quietly.
What do you think? Do you compartmentalize your information sources? Do you go to one set of favourite sources for news and discussion of wars, plague and pestilence, and go to others for your dose of the other stuff? Do you prefer them separate, or do you want to see Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Lebanon-Iran-Syria, fill-in-the-blank, commentary and lamentation wall-to-wall and 24/7 on all the blogs you read? I for one need to find a quiet space from time to time where I’m not just encouraged to think “we’re doomed” all the time. I could be wrong about that. But anyway, for now I try to create some of that quiet space for you here, and on CV.