The U.S-Iran crisis. The Australian wildfires. The Ukrainian plane crash. Covid-19. Kobe Bryant and Gigi’s helicopter crash. Oh don’t mind me, I’m just listing everything bad that happened in January of 2020. But let’s not forget climate change. After all, it affects all of us. But what about the Indigenous population in Canada? They still don’t have clean water, and the oil pipelines are going through their protected land. You can’t forget about local issues, can you? And don’t forget, poverty, racism, sexism, and homophobia still exists. And the Oscars are rigged. And-
You get my point. The world can be a terrible place. If January was a free trial for 2020, I would like to cancel my subscription, please and thank you. Actually, cancel my subscription on humanity and if possible, I want a refund as well.
With so many issues demanding our attention all the time, it can get exhausting. Even watching the news can drain us emotionally. How can you bear go about your day when people across the world, even in your own community, are suffering? This state of biological, physiological and emotional exhaustion and dysfunction is called compassion fatigue. It can cause behavioural changes such as a reduced ability to remain objective, physical changes like exhaustion and anxiety, and emotional changes like numbness and depression. How can you expect people to be engaged in issues if they feel disconnected and desensitized from it? I’m sure most of you have already gotten used to the outlandish tweets Donald Trump sends out regularly.
Yet total apathy isn’t the way to go either. If no one cared about the problems going around the world, we would be even worse off. Sure, we might feel better at the moment, but in the long run, it isn’t beneficial to ourselves or the world we’re living in.
So what do we do? The solution, like most things in life, requires moderation. As individuals, we should either pick a couple
of issues to focus on or choose a couple that you plan to leave for others to worry about. It seems ironic that I’m telling you to care less in a writing competition that tells you to care, but choosing to focus your energy on a few problems rather than all of them isn’t being insensitive and selfish. Your mental health should be a priority. If you feel unwell, you won’t be able to do much to support your cause. Take Greta Thunberg for example. You don’t see her going around and giving speeches for a multitude of other causes as well. She may support them, but by devoting most of her energy into her fight for climate change, she is making progress. In this case, it might be better to be a master of one (or two) rather than a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to activism.
Of course, we shouldn’t collectively choose to work on a couple of issues because there wouldn’t be anyone to care about crises no one is talking about. But don’t feel ashamed for allowing a few controversies to slide off your plate. There’s no doubt that climate change is an important cause that everyone needs to work on. But if you decide that in order to double down on your efforts to advocate for the planet, you need to stop calling out people on the internet for leaving mean and racist comments under people’s videos or tweets, that’s totally fine. Someone else might come along and call them out, or maybe they won’t. But ask yourself, is this worth my energy right now, or can it be better spent on something else?
Personally, I have chosen to not worry about the 2020 election happening in the United States, and whatever is going on in the royal family in the United Kingdom. Living in Canada, anything the States does affects what happens in Canada, like trade between the two countries and political attitudes. In fact, the whole world is probably concerned about the election process, but I won’t be. I don’t see a point in stressing out in the “who’s it going to be?” speculation that comes with elections. If I wanted to watch people yell at each other, I mean, debate, on t.v, I could just bring up a controversial subject at a family dinner. Likewise, the recent Megxit scandal should have prompted a response from me. Should Canadians pay for their move to Canada? Should Canada even keep their ties to the royal family? Aren’t they just so last century and irrelevant to contemporary society? And let’s not forget the underlying racism that surrounds Meghan Markle’s integration and exit from the royal family. I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but Buckingham Palace drama isn’t my cup of tea.
As the year goes on, try not to get engulfed in the amount of bad news you’re receiving. Put down your phone if you have to, but don’t turn it off. There are some problems in the world that we need to solve. No one else is going to do it for us, no matter how much you pray for a saviour to fix the human condition and cleanse the planet of its sins. The question is now: what issues will you care about?