Josna Rege

440. Why this Fussing and Fighting?

In culture, Family, Immigration, Inter/Transnational, reflections, seasons, Stories, Work on September 2, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Have you noticed that the antics we are observing on the national and global scenes are playing out at work, in our hometowns, and in our personal lives as well? Instructive, isn’t it, the fussing and fighting—chaos and confusion, corruption and contention, dissonance and division—Orwellian Newspeak, through-the-looking-glass opposite language that everyone in power is employing in this post-truth era, and incivility to friends and foes alike? It’s hard to withstand it and to maintain one’s own internal harmony and balance.

As I begin what promises to be a busy teaching year, I think of the tension, insecurity, and barely suppressed anger I am carrying, even in my privileged life, and call to mind the desperation of the millions upon millions of uprooted people around the world, refugees from war, repression, environmental destruction and climate change who have been forced to leave their native places on foot and find a new place they can call home, at least provisionally. I think of the families who have lost beloved pieces of themselves through drug addiction and gun violence, refugees and asylum-seekers who have been separated from each other and herded into camps, people who have been deported and their family members who have been left behind, disenfranchised prisoners and their families, homeless people and outcastes who are demonized. The stress I feel—and this is not to deny or minimize it—is but a microcosm of what so many of my fellow-human beings are enduring every moment of every day.

Still, we human beings are resilient; we are. We can suffer what should be mortal blows and still get back up and trudge another mile. We can retain our humanity no matter how much we have been brutalized. And we can remember to slow down, breathe, and be present and civil in our interactions with each other, even to those who do not, perhaps cannot reciprocate. We owe it to ourselves and to the future.

When I get caught up in the paranoia fueled by the current climate, I remind myself that I am not alone. Face it, there is no security anywhere at this time, and all that we can be certain of is change. Working together to create inclusive, mutually supportive communities is our best chance of surviving and maintaining our sanity, both individual and collective. My favorite writer Doris Lessing speaks urgently of the Substance-Of-We-Feeling (SOWF) that is spread thin at this time, that we must cultivate if we are to escape the every-man-for-himself mentality that is destroying this planet and driving us all to extinction. Here’s the band Canned Heat, singing Let’s Work Together. We can do it; we must.

Back to school tomorrow. Keep calm and carry on, Everyone. One Love!

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  1. Thank you Josna for the nudge towards courageous optimism in these turbulent times! And for the links to music, the language that speaks to everyone.

    • Thank you, Anna. Found myself thinking these thoughts after reading Doris Lessing’s Shikasta. It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed as a new teaching year begins, and somewhat of a comfort (albeit a gloomy one) to remember that “there is no high place”–no escape. So yes, I’m not alone, but neither am I exempt from work. The optimism comes from knowing that I have you to work with as a neighbor and friend!

  2. Hi Josna,
    You are right. The trend worldwide is quite worrying. Views are so polarized that there is no middle ground. Many people seem to get to quite riled up seeing news or views that they don’t like. They seem to want to see and read what they want to see and read. Everything else is either wrong or fictitious or part of a conspiracy campaign.
    — bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

    • Well put, Pradeep; something I wanted to say more explicitly in my post, so I’m glad that you have. My students are considering this very problem at the moment, whether it is something new, and whether it poses a threat to democracy. Your measured discussion is just what’s needed t this time. Everything else seems to just feed the polarization. Thank you, J.

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