Outrage to Real Contribution


It’s so easy for me to go to outrage the moment I perceive even a hint of injustice or harm being brought to bear in the world. For a very long time, it felt like it was the only sane response to a world gone mad with polluting, degrading our food and water supplies, not protecting children from the vagaries and sink holes of the screen technologies, a disease care instead of a health care system, power running amok everywhere with its disregard for human life, and more.

I could go on, but I believe you get the point.

But as the years have gone by, I see things differently. I see that I am wasting my precious life force to be continually shaking an angry fist at the powers that be; believing that the intensity of my commitment in this regard will change what is happening. It doesn’t. Or believing that I have to be the one to hold the line against all the ‘bad’ guys. I don’t. Or believing that if I stopped feeling so much intensity, it would mean I was giving up. It doesn’t. 

I recently heard someone say that outrage is the voice of the victim. That sealed it. That was all it took to fully push me all the way into another camp.

That camp being a kind of “Build it and they will come.”

Now I am not suggesting that we turn a blind eye to the injustices of the world. Nor am I suggesting we leave it in someone else’s hands to deal with. And I am definitely not suggesting we check out into some fantasy land where everything will somehow magically correct itself all by itself.

So if it’s not any of this, what is it?

Here’s where it gets tricky. We need to act. But how? And then, here’s where it gets really tricky. Can we recognize that everything is happening for a reason, without collapsing into giving up and doing nothing? This is a lot to sort out, and because of its seeming enormity, it can feel impossible, or at least too daunting to sort out with any chance of having a meaningful impact.

But here’s what I know. There is something that each of us can do simply through how we choose to live. This doesn’t have to be big, or even anything anyone else notices. It’s got nothing to do with guilt or beating ourselves up for being people of the first world. It’s not a competition to see who recycles more or gives their kids organic snacks. And for goodness sake, it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with what you can post about and get rewarded for the virtue you show as you wait for all the ‘likes’ to pile up.

This is about choosing, when and where you can, for a world that makes sense to you. Dare I say, for a world of your dreams. And it’s as close to you as your next thought, word or action. It’s as close to you as how you behave when someone, in person or online, behaves differently than you want them to. It’s as close as not taking more than your share at dinner or at the grocery store. It’s as close as not flipping someone off when you’re driving.

And it is as close as catching yourself playing the victim instead of doing what you can do. Instead of doing what is yours to do to contribute in a real and meaningful way to a world literally dying for more of us to do so.