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After a long weekend, especially a holiday weekend or a con-weekend, it’s hard to deal with re-entry.  Sitting here, at my desk, with a blank page before me, I wonder what to say.  With the work week spiraling towards us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or to at least look around and say ‘wait, what was I doing?’

I don’t think that’s entirely bad.  I think when you take a step back from your habits, you can realize how bad or inefficient some of them are.  Even ‘good habits’ might not be distracting you from your preferred goals, rather than moving you towards them.  With routine and habit comes static and deviating from the routine can help clear that out.  You approach your regular life with refreshed eyes.  It’s beneficial.

Given the state of the world, however, re-entry from a holiday can be especially jarring.  Going two or three days without checking the news (from whatever source you prefer) can overwhelm you with what has happened of late.  Tragedies seem to be mounting.  Especially in the wake of a holiday dedicated to workers, to see what’s happening to so many of them, it is disheartening.  Add to it a devastating hurricane with another on the way?  Saber rattling across the Pacific and threats mounting in this country?  It can be terrifying.  How do you deal with it?

Focus.

You can’t change the world but you can change somebody’s world.  You can’t fix all the problems today but you can take a step towards fixing one problem today.  You may think you have little power, but even a little power can add up with some concentrated effort, and/or combining it with the power of others.  Or better yet, doing both.  This world isn’t a thing that happens to you, it is a thing you are a part of.  You contribute to it, both in what you do and what you don’t do.

You can’t fix everything, but you can fix something.  And as I’ve written before, most of the world’s problems are born of self-perpetuating cycles.  Break the chain and the entire cycle can quickly come tumbling down.  Find out where you can make a difference and apply what little power you’ve got there.

Work two jobs in retail just to make ends meet?  You can still have the backs of your undocumented co-workers.  You can still speak up when you somebody says something out of line at the register in the supermarket.  You don’t need to start a fight.  A single statement in opposition to hate, to ignorance, to abuse.  A single dissenting voice against mob mentality can have a profound effect, both immediately and in the long term.

As a cis, straight white man, I’m about as privileged as they come.  It would be easy to play the ‘I got mine, I hope you get yours’ card and walk away.  I can console myself with ‘I’ve never done anything racist/sexist/homophobic/etc’, so I haven’t made the world worse.  But I have.  I have by benefiting from a system that disadvantages others.  And if your only moral claim is ‘I haven’t made things worse’, you may want to rethink your goals in life.  To whatever walk of life you belong, whatever social strata you find yourself, whatever group you consider yourself a part, every person has an obligation to make the world a better place, even a tiny bit.  A tiny bit adds up a lot quicker than you think.

Call your representatives.  Vote.  Give a single dollar to a worthy cause.  Speak out when you see something wrong.  Check your sources.

It’s the small things that add up.  It’s the small things that make a difference.

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Author: Robert V Aldrich

Author. Speaker. Cancer Researcher. Martial Artist. Illustrator. Cat dad. Nerd.

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