May 03, 2006

Are You As Tired Of This Shit As I Am?

I am still tossing around thoughts of quitting this blog, lately thinking I will might do some more journalist-style work (longer pieces submitted for publication in more esteemed publications/sites).

Maybe I am just suffering from Outrage Fatigue:
Like its cousins--combat fatigue, donor fatigue, compassion fatigue, chronic fatigue, metal fatigue--outrage fatigue has yet to be recognized, or even noted, by the American Psychological Association. That could change as it begins to turn up in therapists' caseloads. Jon Carroll reports in the San Francisco Chronicle, "A therapist I know says that more and more people are showing up at her door with a nonspecific anxiety disorder, which turns out to be shame and confusion about the state of the nation."

So what's the cure?

Outrage is a little bit like anger. Therapist Margaret Paul observes, "Anger that comes from an adult, rational place can be called outrage. Outrage is the feeling we have when confronted with injustice. Outrage mobilizes us to take appropriate action when harm is being done to ourselves, others and the planet."

And like anger, when we don't express our outrage, we repress it and turn that outrage in on ourselves.

That can have bad effects according to Ease@Work, a company that advises businesses on how to treat employees. "Repressed anger is unexpressed anger. Some people can internalize anger so that they fool others, and sometimes themselves, into believing they are not angry. The problem with repressed anger is that it is turned back inside the person, leading to health problems such as hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. ... Bottling up this powerful emotion can make some people withdraw and lose interest in others and in activities, common signs of depression."
Well, that would explain why I have been sick for over a week, plus a few other things...

The article says the best solution is to express your outrage, not internalize it. But I have been "expressing it" for over three years now!

Sigh... Maybe I just need to take stock of what's been accomplished, get my mojo back (as Chuck suggested) and push on?

Or maybe I am not suffering Outrage Fatigue so much as Impotence Fatigue? Think of a prisoner in his cage at Gitmo who decides to express his outrage by banging a cup against the steel bars all day long. Imagine the guards just shrug and let him do it, day after day, month after month... How long can he keep doing it before he realises it is totally useless?

Here are some more thought-provoking comments from the good folks at Smirky:
I think "outrage fatique" stems from the fact that most progressives still think the system can be fixed. It can't. It is time to replace it.
In that case, the thing to do it go about replacing it, I guess. But that's a daunting task right there... And a long road to hoe.
You just have to take the Gandhi approach. This shit could go on for decades. Dubya might be just the taste of things to come...
The "Gandhi approach"? True, Gandhi never gave up hope, even in the face of overwhelming odds. But he was imaginative, resourceful and active, always looking for new ways to press his cause. He didn't just keep banging that cup against the bars.
... people in this country are poor and oppressed but aren't marching to the sea to gather sea salt, and maybe if the Indians had dreams of a Rapture and 300 channels of cable to watch, they wouldn't have marched either.
Ouch. There is a whole lot of truth in that one. Gandhi would not have achieved much without his followers. If Bush is just a symptom of a sick society, as I often say, then maybe the solution is to change the USA's broader social problems, not just the political ones.
My daughter said once: "How come you keep on doing those demonstrations when it doesn't do any good." I replied: "Because when I look in the mirror and know I did the right thing I am happy. When I am dying I will rejoice that I did right and that I believed in love not war. And that is something precious to me.
Ultimately, that's it, I think. Life is short, life is beautiful, but life is also a bubble (as the Buddhists say) which will not last forever. I sometimes think that one day each of us will have a moment where we look back upon our lives and review all that what we have done, for better or worse, with an unavoidably brutal clarity. And I sometimes think that, in that moment, seeing all that we have been and done, we will effectively pass judgement on ourselves. I have read some scientific books about the nature of Time and Space, and I sometimes think that when we die, we may step outside the confines of Time, just as we step outside the confines of Space. Some would call this "going to heaven" or "going to hell" - the difference between the two may be wholly dependent on how you judge yourself in that final, fleeting moment. Do you want to spend eternity (i.e. no-time) looking back at a wasted life? Or do you want to spend eternity knowing that - whatever horrors may have unfolded during your brief time on Earth - you did your best to spread light and love?

Doesn't mean I am going to keep blogging forever... But I am damned well not going to give up the struggle against people like Bush!

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