Dear fellow humans,
If you know me, you’ll know I’m passionate about social justice and equality, about regenerating the environment and caring for one another and making mistakes and being truly, honestly, awkwardly, beautifully human. You’ll have seen my rants on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll have watched me squirm and fume in the face of (what I call) bigotry, you’ll have heard me debate and argue, campaign and shout and change my mind and get things wrong and learn and relearn.
Firstly, I know how annoying this must feel sometimes and how being with me, and others like me, can feel like waiting to be told you’re doing something ‘wrong’. I also know that it probably comes across as patronising and holier than thou. And most of all, I know and understand that often it’s hard to hear and easy to ignore.
But although I might seem like I’ve got it all together and sit in my ivory tower passing comment on how the world is operating, and what we ‘should’ all be doing, that’s not my reality.
I’ve just been onto Google to see if there was a word or phrase to describe how I’m feeling today, and in fact how I often feel these days. I searched for ‘feeling depressed about the world’, and immediately was faced with reams of entries from people feeling the same way. I think that, in an era where we’re all at the end of a hotline to everything going wrong, this ‘humanitarian depression’ is a phrase we should coin.
Sure, day-to-day I am happy-go-lucky, I’m active, I have fun, love and laugh and try to live life to the full and, on the personal level, I am grateful for my life, am very fortunate and am learning to appreciate myself as a person. But sitting somewhere beneath all of this is a feeling that pervades my very being and is with me always – a deep, deep sadness for what’s going on in the world.
Sometimes it manifests as anger, sometimes resentment and self-hatred, and hopelessness, or sarcasm and bitterness. Sometimes it just sits there in the pit of my stomach or at the centre of my chest. A knot of pure anxiety and of fear for all that matters on Earth: extraordinary, unique, dangerous, beautiful humans and the precious, delicate, exquisite planet that we inhabit and that gives us life.
I twist myself in circles in my head: “What do you know about the world?”; “Why does your opinion matter?”; “You can’t do anything about it”; “You live a life of privilege and can only see the world through that lens”; “What right do you have to be angry on others’ behalf?”; “Who are you to think you can change this?”; “You think you know enough to tell people how to live their lives?”; “You’re only doing this because you feel guilty”; “Who’s to say all of your sources and your education and your knowledge aren’t wrong?”; “How can you have fun when the world is in this state?”; “You definitely shouldn’t have children, what kind of a world is this to bring a child into?”; “You just ate meat/left the light on/drove a journey you could have walked, you’re such a hypocrite”; “Stop acting like a white saviour”; “Don’t make any plans for the future, there might not be one”; “You don’t need or deserve comfort”; “Humans are just humans”; “Anger won’t solve anything”; “Stop patronising people or making them angry”; “Stop trying to change peoples’ minds, you have no right”; “Writing this letter is a prime example of first world problems”… The list is endless…
In the past year or so I’ve been more like a sponge than ever, soaking up social media and blogs, and endless streams of online news. I’ve looked into dark places for answers and for hope, and now I carry this with me. Sometimes I just start crying. Last week I lay on the floor for an hour and didn’t get up.
I’m not sure what I hope to achieve by writing this and I do it with no expectations. I CERTAINLY don’t want your pity – I take responsibility for myself. For me, I long for the day when I can communicate how I truly feel about the world and (with full acceptance that my hopes and dreams are not and should not be global norms), in some small way, inspire others to stand up for what they believe in, or to consider the possibility of another way or another opinion or point of view.
So when you next see me, or anyone like me, posting or saying or writing something seemingly angry about patriarchy, or racism, or gender inequality, or environmental degradation, or homophobia, or bullying, or unfair resource distribution; please know that it’s not because we’re being ar*eholes, or because we think we’re better than you, or that you should feel guilty, or because it’s fun to troll humanity with doom and gloom.
The truth is, for me, I share and amplify because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where to start. The political, economic and social systems are failing us; money and power are still more important to society than people; we’re still stripping the earth of its natural resources and the world is working for the few rather than the many. We’re heading for a wall and the protests aren’t working, riots are being shut down and there’s not enough of us stamping our feet and screaming, shouting and waving while we’re drowning to keep us afloat.
I know it’s easier to bury our heads in the sand, to keep laughing, to keep shopping and dancing on the peripheries of any real change and waiting for technology, or a miracle, to save us (I do it to), but please just understand that I’m trying not to close my eyes and let it come. I’m kicking and screaming and crying and tearing my hair out for us all. Every single one.