Today is a great example of how much rage one feels in this era of overwhelming information, knowledge and perspective. We know of raging conflicts in other parts of the world as we live in peace; have seen faces of children suffering from starvation and even drowned up on shores; learn of modern day genocides; hear live streaming of lies and propaganda from the mouths of leaders of former colonial powers and super powers; see racist and uneven coverage of humans being blown up by bombs in various capitals of the world; the inability of human civilisation to roll back environmental destruction; the depravity and horror of sexual violence that women face all over the world; the continuing reign of patriarchy; the hold of religious fundamentalism and even how ordinary people believe in backward ideas stemming from correct or incorrect interpretation of so-called holy scripture; the staggering inequality and poverty in nearly every society; the sheer and vulgar wealth of elites and the widening gaps; unabashed racism; injustice; the idiotic concepts of nationalism and nation states; and, so on. We have all the news and information at our finger tips on our TV screens, telephone screens, podcasts, radio, WhatsApp, Facebook, video clips, etc but live in blinding rage.
To a certain extent, we are also living in apathy. I sometimes change the channel when I am watching news about the Rohingya or one of the barely-covered or barely-analysed coverage of one of the conflicts in Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo or Central African Republic or Boko Haram's exploits in Nigeria). The headlines that Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time and that every other child is dying of cholera and starvation are so depressing and haunting that one simply doesn't know what to think or say. The reactions are anger, shock, sadness, and utter helplessness.
What can a human feel but helplessness when one hears of death and suffering and injustice hundreds and thousands of miles away? Hardly a couple hundred years ago, ordinary humans did not have access to detailed news and events even from a neighbouring city or country. News probably traveled very slowly and, I don't suppose much was known about happenings very far away. Perhaps humans lived in much smaller communities and any injustice or suffering was dealt with, even if caused by folks in that same community.
I'm just imagining the human condition. We are told that before industrialisation and urbanisation happened, human societies were more closely bound. Of course, perhaps they were more insular but I don't think suffering was ignored. And certainly, before this information age, the average human was not aware of suffering far away.
Somehow, one wants to believe that before our societies were forcibly and violently modernised through industrialisation, colonisation, and globalisation, they were more close-knit and kind. Of course, I'm romanticising a sense of life and reality before the information age.
Along came the notion of nation states and imagined sense of belonging with millions of other people, and, we were bound together.
On this trajectory, what is one supposed to do with the knowledge of suffering going on in this world? Perhaps it is important to be aware even if one feels helpless. At least it gives one a sense of perspective. What can one do, though? Perhaps, realign one's politics and sense of history by learning and understanding more about what you have just heard and watched. If by chance you support the power structure that is causing the suffering, you would be inspired to change your stance. Maybe there is a space where you can actually take action too: stop supporting a government or petition or contribute with funds or raise awareness. Sounds very cliché. More or less, it boils down to social media activism. Join the enlightened crowd of social media activists.
Perhaps helpless rage is better than complete ignorance. Perhaps that simmering rage will eventually lead us to take constructive action down the line.