The economy. Terrorism. Iraq. Zimbabwe. Hunger. Global warming.
forests, the lungs of
Extinction of animal and plant species at a dizzyingly accelerating
These are but a few components of a particularly
pernicious global conversation, a deeply entrenched conversation, a far
reaching conversation, a widely pervasive conversation instilling great
concern in people of good will everywhere. When we ante up
to this conversation, tossing into the pot chips
comprising the economy, terrorism, Iraq, Zimbabwe, hunger, global
warming, decimation of
forests, extinction of animal and plant species at a dizzyingly
accelerating rate, and more, the truth of the matter is almost
unconfrontable. It's almost too huge to even begin
to confront. We're only just getting started.
In the face of these catastrophic fires, so to speak, which I'm
somehow (as Billy Joel may have said), I notice there's a natural
tendency to be afraid, to be very afraid of what may be
coming next. It doesn't take me long, however, to figure out
albeit a natural response, an autonomic response to this
particular conversation (I'm calling it a conversation - I
won't call it a reality, at least not for now), isn't powerful.
In the absence of fear and yet appropriate to my natural
concern as a man of good will, I notice my next level of
thrown response to this conversation is to worry.
If I look at worry I notice, like fear, how immobilizing
it is. If I say I'm worried about the state of the
right now, and if I tell the truth about it, worrying
about the problem doesn't shift anything, doesn't heal
anything, doesn't change anything, doesn't alter ... one ...
... thing. As a matter of fact, worrying
about the problem actually exacerbates the problem.
Turn on the TV. Switch on the radio. Open a daily paper. Visit a news
portal. The news isn't pretty right now. Actually, throughout the
years, throughout history in fact, the "news" has never
been pretty. This is just
about the news. This is just the nature of the news. It's
a myth: the news media are not in the business of being
objective, balanced, or fair. They wouldn't survive if they
were. CNN isn't in the business of bringing good news. If
the truth be told, any news media outlet specializing in
good news would go bankrupt before long. If the truth be
told, we're just not captivated by good news. Events themselves, the
focus in the media on bad news, our propensity to be captivated
by bad news, creates a vicious circle which
perpetuates the continuation of bad news. Inside of this vicious
circle, we worry. We worry about the bad news. We worry about what's
going on. We worry about how it will turn out. We worry about what
we'll do next. We worry if we're going to "make it".
It doesn't make any difference. Worrying doesn't make any difference.
It turns out anyway.
Other than allowing this perspective to render you totally apathetic
(and that's one possible place it could leave you), where's the
fulcrum of power in this distinctly
What I notice when I look at worry from within the
question "Does worrying make any difference - like a change, like a
fulcrum of power, like an implement to set things right?" is this:
Whether I worry about what's going on in the world and in my life, or
whether I don't worry about what's going on in the world and in my
life, I notice it turns out the way it turns out anyway. In other
words, what I notice is worrying has no power to impact the way things
turn out, even if that's what I would like to have happen as a result
Be careful. This isn't to discount the urgency of what there is we're
worried about. This is simply to look at and to examine whether
or not worrying makes any difference at all. This isn't a stand
which encourages apathy. Neither is it a justification for not taking
action when action is called for. Rather, it's an empowering
distinction, looking at what I do to myself ie worry in
the name of being concerned with what's turning out.
Spoken with compassion, while it's a distinctly human
activity, worry serves no purpose other than to justify itself.
It neither impacts nor shifts what's turning out. Worry, it could be
said, even gets in the way of taking action appropriate to
what's turning out.
Now ... none of this is useful if it's heard implying "Don't worry!".
This isn't the trite "Don't worry, be happy!" of popular song, like a
rule to live by. Setting another rule, concocting another
recipe, making another resolution only adds another
alligator to the swamp (as
Werner Erhard may have
Like any other distinctly human activity, we worry from time to time.
Any injunct to stop worrying is as naïve and as
as the terribly misunderstood injunct to quiet the mind. Rather,
what's useful is to distinguish worry asworry when it shows up, then to distinguish
worrying doesn't make any difference, then to isolate
worrying as distinct from powerfully acting
to address the objects of worry ie acting to make a difference in the
areas of concern.
These are useful distinctions with power to shift the way things turn