What troubles you?
Naming the problems that trouble us is scary… yet speak we must.
There are problems so big and scary that we feel the least-bad thing to do is to continue as if they didn’t exist, because speaking up about them might just generate more conflict than we feel prepared for.
Yet, speak we must — if only because it releases some of the tension we feel, and helps us decide what’s within our control and what isn’t, and how we will orient our future action and presence.
So let’s name what troubles us. I’ll go first — but please don’t just clap for this: speak your own troubles, too, so I don’t feel like a freak worrier.
On top of my head, there are three right now.
#1 — Climate disruptions, present and future
There isn’t a day when I don’t contemplate the dire consequences of climate disruptions, present and future. My neighbour and friend died during the heat wave last summer here in Vancouver. So many of my fellow British Columbians have seen their homes flooded by waters that couldn’t care less about the flimsy infrastructure humans put in place to control it, and precious local farmland was soiled with a toxic mess in the process. That’s just what is immediately local to me, and far from the worse at the scale of the planet. Flooding, drought, famine, war. I sometimes feel guilt for putting children into the world to face this — although they are also my greatest inspiration to prevent me from become apathetic about it. That troubles me.
#2 — Burden of chronic disease
The burden of chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, cancer… just to start) worries me for two reasons. Number one, I have many loved ones who are either directly at risk or affected. Number two, as a whole, chronic disease is a big part of problem number 1 above: the cost of treating those conditions is extremely high, and climbing, and makes afflicted countries increasingly dependent on economic growth to pay for healthcare. Economic growth, to a large extent, means extracting resources from the crust of the earth (fossil fuels, minerals…), transforming them into products (usually a very polluting process), shipping them around the world, using the products for a short while, and disposing of them. All of that feeds climate disruption and environmental destruction both. If we were able — as a community — to take a serious turn toward lifestyle improvements and preventing disease with better diets, exercise, stress reduction, better sleep, and increased sense of community, we’d be collectively and personally less dependent on growth. The revolution required to change our lifestyles is so deep — and cuts into the core of our economic system — that I don’t know how much progress we can make there. That troubles me, too.
#3 — My child’s eating habits
It may be small and personal compared to #1 and #2, but I am concerned about my youngest child’s nutrition at the moment, and I often feel powerless to improve things. He has been in his pickiest eating phase for the last few months and I sometimes worry about whether he’ll ever have another vegetable in his life (other than hidden ones). That’s on my mind a lot.