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
aforesaid economy, terrorism, Iraq, Zimbabwe, hunger, global warming,
forests, extinction of animal and plant species, and more, the truth of
the matter is almost unconfrontable. It's almost too
huge to even begin to confront.
In the face of these catastrophes which I'm impelled to
somehow, I notice there's a natural tendency to be afraid of what may
be coming next. Yet
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. Yet when I look at worry, I
notice, like fear, how immobilizing it is. When I say I'm worried about
the state of the union of
right now, 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 morning and evening news has
never been pretty. This is just
about the news. This is just the nature of the news. And
it's a myth that the news media are 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'll turn out. We worry about what we'll do next. We worry
if we're going to make it ie if we'll survive as a
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:
No it doesn't. Whether I worry about what's going on in
and in my life, or whether I don't worry about what's going on in
and in my life, I notice they turn out the way they turn out anyway. In
other words, what I notice is worrying has no power to impact the way
things turn out.
Be careful. This isn't to discount the urgency of what we worry about.
This is simply to look at and to examine whether or not worrying
makes any difference. 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 I get from
looking at what I do to myself when I worry in the name of being
concerned with what's turning out, and I notice it really
doesn't make any difference at all!
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 / obfuscates 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
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 as worry when it
shows up, then to notice worrying doesn't make any difference,
and to bracket worrying, as distinct from powerfully
acting to address the objects of worry ie as distinct from
acting to make a difference in the areas of concern.
This distinction has the power to shift the way things turn out in
in which things turn out the way they turn out anyway.