I am a first-world, able-bodied, happily-married, white male, not young, not old, securely employed with benefits. I take pleasure in the finer things: movies, literature, music, eating out, information at my fingertips, a home I can call my own.
And every once in awhile I feel nauseous.
The Marxist has bled out of me and with it, all youthful idealism. Yet there remains leftover a stubborn knowing that this paradigm -despite the benefits- is not merely flawed but wholly unsustainable. Wherever I am now is in flux, the employed are in flux with the unemployed, the gadgets of today, run on the energy supply of the future. I live in full awareness of my comeuppance. I am not owed this easy life, and not owed it because others are owed less. Nor is this a bit of luck, and I should embrace fortune for the fluke that it is. The quintessential flaw in reasoning is to think solely in discrete packets of things and think the world abides by this trick of grammar. Today is a consequence of tomorrow as much as yesterday, and one ought to behave in reverence if not to something so out of fashion as God, then the prima facie ethics of co-existence, of existing finitely on a finite planet with consequences to your actions or inaction.
I felt nauseous before I even knew why. I think we all feel something not quite right. It isn’t merely the existential dilemma but something peculiar to this arrangement. The private chamber of your heart that beats in discord with
your surroundings. You must feel it. If not now, somewhere along the path.
What people find eccentric and worth pointing out is less mysterious to me than those who seem incapable of being touched by the magnitude of the world, who are forever making facebook-friendly quips, and probably lol-ing when no one is around. How do they get through this life skirting the issue of existence? I understand how the narcissism of adolescence can consume but there appear to be people that are impervious through to old age, that have sealed off that chamber permanently. I have to believe even they feel nauseous and are just better at hiding it.
In spite of my functioning heart I am a lousy activist; knowing is not acting. And to be clear, confessing this is not a way to appease my so-called liberal white guilt or first world problems. Compassion has become a vulgar word, all the more depending on your pay grade. So quickly that voice appears to undermine the sentiment of compassion of one momentarily well-off towards those who are momentarily not; that it is deemed an indiscretion and has currency in the fabric of how we do business says volumes of how far astray we are as a species.
I am not the person that leads the march that inspires a revolution. Like I said, the idealist in me has gone away. I am also a coward and an addict. The fact remains that I am living comfortably in this paradigm, too comfortably to act first. I am living the spirit of St Augustine’s plea, “God make me chaste… but not yet”. Each person has their own tipping point, I like to believe I will act before I am too late, but do not look for me in the first wave. As with all revolutions the first wave is comprised of idealists and the worst off. I will cheer them so long as free speech is tolerated. The hacktivists, the occupiers, the student mobs, I am a fan and paying close attention and choosing my moment. I am a pragmatist, but a pragmatist left without options becomes just as dangerous as an idealist. When the cowards start to fight, the time for change will have arrived.