On the Overwhelming Complexity of the World…and Pessimism

As a man who vacillates between keeping up with world affairs and saying “Fuck it”, I am continually struck with the same feeling of futility whenever I’ve spent any appreciable amount of time perusing the news. It’s not that I’m a person who believes in the hopelessness of man as a rational, kind creature. Nor one who only sees the bad and pretends the good doesn’t exist. For the most part, I’m downright idealistic about our future ability to make positive changes. But sometimes when I see the current manifestation of humanity, and look back at all past iterations, I can’t help but temporarily lose faith and wonder just why the hell it matters anyways.

The list is endless. It has always been endless, and sadly, unnecessary. War (preventable), famine (preventable…for the most part), poverty (preventable), greed (preventable), violence (preventable), utter selfishness (preventable) and utter complacency (preventable): all are too-large parts of our history. All have been immortalized in oral tradition, in literature, in our legacy, sometimes as warnings, sometimes as just punishment, sometimes as necessity, and sometimes as worthy examples.

And it’s not just the buzz words of man’s problems that get me down. Take even a surface survey of the world and I come up with specifics that suck the life right out of me. ISIS. Ukraine. The Gaza Strip. Gun violence in America. Deforestation of the world’s most incredible natural and diverse resource, the Amazon. Slavery. Rape. Masses of refugees with nowhere to go. Animal abuse. Etc. Etc. Etc.

And then dive further down. Look at public opinion on such issues. Examine the various sides and their arguments and see that–barring those people who don’t seem to have a heart, or at least have a heart hidden behind many layers of misplaced hope that has turned into hate (because to know what is wrong is almost the same as knowing what’s right, right?)–there are possibly more correct answers than one. Or at the very least, that it isn’t clear which answer should be right. That it is understandable all those different points of view exist and that it is, and like always will be, impossible to distill down to a formula that fits every person. Where, then, do you even begin to change the world’s problems?

And if you can’t, if you can’t as a person do a goddamn thing to make the world any closer to the vision you have of it, to the vision you still believe somewhere in your heart that most people approximate, is it worth it to try? Is it worth it to take your one good life (assuming those reading this are privileged and haven’t had to suffer at the hands of the world’s unfairness; and if you have, I am sorry) and spend it trying to change something that might not be able to be changed?

This is where I get whenever my thoughts are given free rein. Especially whenever I consider just how complex life is: when I think of all the various people in my general vicinity living their lives that have nothing to do with mine, when I think of all those people, and then the ones in this surrounding town, in this country, this continent, this hemisphere, when I think of all the millions of bodies laughing, crying, hurting and being hurt, when I think of all those watching TV or driving their cars or yelling the same frustrations up at the stars, when I think of all the personal intrigues and problems and hopes and dreams and needs. What can a man do in the face of such unfathomable complexity? What can a single man do when he can’t even control himself at times, when he still says the angry word, gives voice to the hurtful thought, greedily clutches what should go to another?

I don’t know. I doubt I ever will. But something compels me to try, to keep trying to find something despite the odds. Despite maybe never living a simple, carefree life. Despite always having to question myself, to go up and down, to take a step forward and a step back and steps sideways and no steps at all. I won’t give up the hope, even in hopeless moments like these, that somewhere, under some stone, hidden in some unexamined hallway of my heart, is an answer, an answer for what to do, as to how to make it all better, as to how to start, no matter how slowly, unraveling this terrible knot we’re so tied up in.