I’ve avoided reading too much about Aleppo because I know it would be depressing and frustrating as hell, and I’m probably not going to be able to do very much about it. I’ve seen snippets of it on social media that people are sharing – apparently people are living videos and tweets and messages with their last words, saying goodbyes, asking to be remembered – expecting to be massacred imminently.
It’s pretty crazy to think that there are thousands of people alive right now living with that sort of fear. That they’re about to be slaughtered.
What can the international community do about it, realistically? How many killing fields and holocausts and genocides must Earth witness?
If I were my own grandpa – wise and old and mature and knowledgeable – what would I advise me to do?
The serenity prayer comes to mind. You focus on making the difference that you can actually make. Well, what difference is that? I’m so far from the chaos. My life is a privileged one. I’ve written about my frustrations about living in a box, going from box to tube to box to tube, living a mundane, frustrating cycle of mediocrity – but looking at the fear in the eyes of the Syrians, it’s clear that I live in what they’d consider to be paradise. They’d give anything to be frustrated by the trivial things I get frustrated by.
Am I using them as some sort of feel-good prop now? Fuck, man, what can you do? What’s the way out? What’s the right thing to do? I’ve avoided posting about this on social media because I think drawing attention to myself in a space like that is not going to help anything. I don’t want to do any overt virtue-signalling – though I suppose if anybody reads this then it will have some of that effect anyway. Well fuck, man. Sometimes things are just messy and there are no clear answers and… life is meaningless and purposeless.
What would Obama say? What would Admiral McRaven say? I Googled it and news headlines say Obama is ‘deeply concerned’. Everybody’s goddamn deeply concerned about everything. And I’m sure they’re good people with good intentions and good wishes. Nobody wants innocent little girls to be bombed to death, to be screaming and running in fear. Right? Does anybody wish that on the young daughters of their enemies?
I’m thinking now about the quiet that came over a group of friends at a void deck when we learned about a friend’s father’s cancer. Everyone just got really somber and morose and spoked in hushed tones – even long after the friend had left the area. What were we doing? It didn’t feel like we were helping with the situation. We were really just soothing ourselves. That’s what we do, don’t we, humans? Self-sooth. Everything is self-soothing. Everything is to make ourselves feel better about ourselves one way or another. Rationalisation, sour grapes.
I wonder if I can ever become somebody significant enough to actually have anything meaningful to say or do about future crises like Aleppo. And now I’m thinking about all the other crises that have happened – Orlando, Paris, all the outpouring of concerns and prayers and thoughts, all the hashtags and profile pictures and sad statuses. What difference does any of it make? Shouldn’t we know by now? Do we care? Does it matter?
I suppose this is my way of trying to troubleshoot my own philosophy, my own view of the world. Should I be concerned or should I not? Should I be a selfish prick that’s only focused on my immediate surroundings? And is that really a selfish thing to do, actually? What if that focus helps me be achieve more, make more of a difference to myself and those around me? Would it be worth it then? If I inspire my peers and my family and challenge them to be better? Then maybe we could do more. I’ve noticed in the leadup to the 2016 elections that many of the people who I thought were much more accomplished or influential were still wringing their hands just as I would’ve if it were directly relevant to me. How much time and energy have I spent following the American elections – does it really matter? Do I really need to care? No, I just need to be anti fragile to all of it as much as I can, and then just do what I like.
Well – Taleb talks quite a bit about honor himself. I don’t know what honour is. I don’t know if I can be an honourable man. I think I should try, but I don’t want it to be because I want some sort of shallow virtue signalling BS. It should be for myself. I suppose I should slow down, breathe deep and feel in my heart what I really want. I don’t think neurotically thinking about it is going to make a difference.
Either way, the song always ends the same. I have to finish this vomit, shower and go to bed, wake up early and start the day strong. Tonight’s the last night of my leave, tomorrow I have to get back to work. Start filling out spreadsheets, looking at data, writing blogposts, reply to emails, schedule posts, publish, think, plan, followup. A part of me wishes I could stay on leave for longer, but another part of me knows that that probably wouldn’t help. I’ve gotten the benefit of decompression that I wanted. So right now all I need to do is just get to bed, sleep well, wake up early, shower, be fresh and leave home. Then when I get to work I have to start breaking things down into pieces and get them done.
I have to believe in myself. I don’t want to play catch-up anymore. I want to be proactive. I want to be a better version of myself. I might not be able to save the kids in Aleppo, but I can at least do right by myself, and hopefully then move on to seriously helping others.