The world is a mess

The world is a mess.

And it’s not just the wars, political turmoil, economic instability and corruption that so many people in the world have to face.

The world is – intrinsically – a mess. Without our constant intervention, our conscious effort, things decay, break apart, get messy, disordered, unruly. Weeds grow in cracks – life will find its way wherever it can. Dust collects. Possessions, arrangements, human affairs fall into chaos.

To be human is to work, without end, to address such a state of affairs in which nature is, in many ways, always working to undo us.

How to respond?

Perhaps to live in constant state of resentment or rejection of the inherent chaos of everything. Constantly tense, watchful for any intrusion on your sense of order, you try to retain tight control over everything and everyone. There is always something more to be done. And then more, and then more. Any instability, any hint that the world may be beyond your influence stirs up anger, rejection, clenched jaw, frustration.

Or choose resignation. Since the world is already and always falling apart, there’s no point trying. No point in creating order. Perhaps no point in creating anything since it will eventually be swept away. No point speaking up for yourself, or on behalf of others, because you’re not powerful enough to make a difference. No point pursuing justice, or compassion, or growth of any kind. Instead, gradually settling into a world-weary, knowing cynicism in which human limitation becomes an excuse for giving up responsibility.

Or another possibility: that to be human is also to walk the path between these two poles – between the responsibility to act, bringing about a new future, and the responsibility to accept our limits in the chaotic, uncontrollable world in which we live.

 

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