That’s a pretty depressing and fatalistic post title, but I actually mean it in a positive and encouraging way. Let me explain.
It’s easy to go about your life, every day, feeling like everyone else has their shit together and that the things you struggle with are unique to you.
But then, when you get down to it, it turns out that everyone — every single person I know — is dealing with profoundly difficult and stressful things. Sometimes that’s money, sometimes it’s health, sometimes it’s work or family or relationships.
It’s worth remembering this so that we cultivate some empathy when dealing with people — in general and in particular in difficult situations.
For example, with all of the controversy and strife over police brutality and race relations in the US, it’s easy for both sides to look at the other and not understand. My personal default stance on all of that is: of course police treat black males unfairly, and black people in the US are so structurally fucked over that it’s hard to really comprehend it.
I also have a police detective as a future brother-in-law, who sees it from a different perspective. From his, and my sister-in-law’s point of view, he does something incredibly dangerous and scary, for the safety of all of us; and further, he’s a good person and so are his colleagues. He also sent me this video (graphic) which grounds those sentiments in reality. And of course, he’s right.
Or take congress. It’s poisonous there. I went down to DC last week, and met with two Republican senate staffers, two Democrats, and an independent. Reasonable people, all of them, and I’m sure each with their own struggles. Now, I’m not in the thick of the DC mess, but it seems to me that it’s easy to lose sight of that and just fucking hate everyone in the heat of the fight.
Or the torture report. Jesus.
Or look at celebrities, or the ultra rich. I have an old friend who is very wealthy and just went through a really painful divorce that broke up his family. The number of privileged kids with broken lives due to substance abuse is staggering.
The number of upper middle class, middle class, and poor people with broken lives due to substance abuse is staggering. A fabulous couple I know, with one of the best relationships I’ve ever seen, is on the brink of losing it because of stress and alcohol.
We’ve got two close friends dealing with life-threatening cancer right now. Someone in their thirties and someone in their sixties.
Everyone has these things, either directly or adjacently. And they all go to work every day (or don’t), and get on twitter, and blog, and talk on TV, and run companies, and etc.
I am not exactly sure what my point is here, except to say that thinking about it this way really makes me want to redouble my support for my friends and family, and to give everyone (including myself) a break now and then, because there are things in their life that are broken, and life is hard for everyone.