Two things I heard this weekend got me thinking:
First, there was the question of whether we (humans) would first (a) blow ourselves up, or (b) make our planet uninhabitable. (The consensus was for the bombs.)
Second were the words of my pastor Sunday morning (don’t worry, I won’t get all religious on you): “Some of us will never be well because we’ve become too accustomed to our disease.”
So I was trying to think, “What is, as a human ‘society,’ our ‘disease?’” When you think about it, we have so many, don’t we? Where do you start?
An easy one in this country is racism. Of course, not all people are afflicted with this disease. According to what I’ve been learning/discovering this year, all whites are inherently racist and all people of color are not, because they can’t be. This isn’t the kind of racism people talk about when they usually mean “bigotry,” but this is the racism our society has been built on and continues to perpetuate. It really is a disease, and I want to commend all those who are standing up and taking action to reverse this disease that has been hundreds of years in the making. I know I’m not doing all I can, and I challenge you as I challenge myself to stand up and start.
Greed is another “disease” of this world. I could expand on this, but I’m not sure if it really even needs expansion. I watched a movie/documentary this weekend called The Yes Men (link) which opened my eyes to some of the things the WTO, World Trade Organization, does to help international corporations exploit workers in third world countries. The movie The Corporation is a great example about how we have created greed machines in this world.
Violence. I’m not stupid enough to point to guns as the problem here. But the creation of a culture where a 4-year-old girl can be killed in a drive by shooting (something that happened last week here in Milwaukee) where the reaction is, yes, one of horror but also one where we know it’s more a fact of life than something that can be changed has a disease. Go and reread my pastor’s quote and you’ll see the problem with that.
Xenophobia. Fundamentalism. This is only the start of what could be a very, very long list. I invite you to add others through comments or other avenues.
But I think the real issue, the real “disease,” isn’t specifically any of these. I think the real disease is complacency. The real disease is the belief that this is the way the world is there really isn’t much I can do to change that. The real disease isn’t any of the actual “diseases” that we can point to as problems – it’s our unwillingness to do anything about them.
If a doctor diagnosed me with a life-threatening disease and I decided to let it run its course and see if I could survive instead of seeking treatment, you’d probably say I was pretty stupid. So why do we allow ourselves to live in that exact same mindset when it comes to thinking about our world and the people in it?
All the things I listed and many more are killing us, if not physically – though some of them surely do – then they’re killing our souls, which, really, is 100 times worse. I’m not saying I’m any better than you or most at doing something about the problem. It’s hard not to be complacent. But until we get off our asses and demand change, we can expect the disease of complacency and all that flourishes because of it to lead each and every one of to a slow and agonizing death.