0285 – Well-informed futility

I had a conversation with my friend Janie this past Saturday about motivation for large-scale change. Many of you out there know that there are many many things in this world that needs to change: discrimination, poverty,  Wall St, education system, to name a few. Many of us work tirelessly to effect change in an area that we’re passionate about, but at some point all of us feel that weariness and fatigue from working against the flow of things.

Janie and I were talking about how easy it is on yourself to just… stop trying. And go with the flow. Stay with the status quo. Many of us know a few things that we would like to change about the system, but changing the system seems really hard and this deters many away from the work.

I was reminded of the phrase “well-informed futility” that I heard of a year ago. It is coined by Sandra Steingraber to refer to how we are mostly aware of the issues of our times but feel so powerless.

I think about this a lot, because it haunts me every single day. I’ve been told to care, but also let go. I found this on another blog called Purpose Fairy (btw, this is an awesome blog – I’ll write an intro in my next post!):

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” –Lao Tzu

This really is a Buddhist concept; in this case, being able to let go means not being attached to the work that you do when things start to change or don’t go your way.

You know… things like this is always easier said than done. With all things, this needs practice. and patience. Currently my patience isn’t going to get me to the point where I can let go. But I’m trying. And will always try.

I always ask myself if the world will miss me if I stop doing the work that I do. To be real, the answer is probably no. And chances are your answer is no as well. So why should I care? Why should you care?

I also imagine the world that I’d like to see–the world where everyone feels interconnected, the world where nature is cherished not destroyed, the world where people are truly recognized by their character and not their physical appearance, the world where everyone is happy.

The world I imagine is so far from the world I currently live in. And as hard as it sounds, I know why I’m here and why I do what I do. Can I quit? Yes. Do I want to quit? Yes, often. But will I? No. And I sure hope you won’t. Or if you already have, I hope you’ll find the fire that will rekindle your passions again.

Professor Bruce Dale said this in a talk last week: We are currently living in a fantasy. The world we live in is the stuff you can only dream about; it’s not going to last.

So let’s change that.

We may be well-informed. We may feel futile. But that will not always the case. There is hope, and as long as there is hope, may we never stop dreaming.

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One thought on “0285 – Well-informed futility

  1. jhconradd April 12, 2012 / 1:23 am

    I think that we need to let go of certain things in order to free ourselves, but I would not venture to say that the world is won by those who let go. The problem with a statement like this is that is just redefines what “winning the world” is. It’s like redefining what you call success or lowering the standard of success. To someone who lets everything go they are by definition winning the world as long as they let everything go because that is what they wants.

    I think about this concept a lot it in the sense of freedom, however. I believe that the fight for freedom is a perpetual fight. If you do not fight for it, it will be usurped away from you given time. What do you think?

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