My heart is heavy, y'all, and I've spent the last three weeks thinking about why that is, my life, meaning, and the increasingly scary state of the world. I've been trying to think through what we do about that.
What can be done about it.
I've always been an optimist at heart, and while I'm not always the best at making myself approachable or showing people how much I care about them, I do care about people a lot. Seeing so much fear, anxiety, mistrust, and hopelessness hurts my little optimist heart a lot.
It's hard to watch some of the smartest people I know look at the societal problems facing us, blow out their cheeks, and go "gosh, hell if I know what to do." Maybe it's hopeless romantic idealism, but I want to live in a world where everyone can feel safe, happy, loved.
Right now there isn't very much of that going around. Internal faction splintering, active hot war in Western countries, COVID, financial distress, atomization, loneliness. The threads are falling apart, you feel it everywhere, and I hate it.
There are so many voices in the darkness that want to fight this outcome, that want to bring people together and promote human flourishing, but no one seems to know how. There are some good experiments: game B, anti-Molochian ethos, some of the web3 energy, metta focus...
All of this, and other efforts of this nature, are good. I so very much respect people who are standing up against pain, fear, and hatred and trying to bring people together with loving, peaceful energy in spite of not being quite sure how to pathfind our way out of this.
I respect it because it makes me so very tired when I try to think logistically through the problems that face us. You realize that coordination failure arises from value/goal differences and divergentism (if true) actively pulls us in that direction.
You see the systems that have served us acceptably well for the past century (though always imperfectly) fraying at the edges and breaking down, with everyone shuffling skittishly as they wonder what comes next in a chaotic and increasingly unpredictable landscape.
I don't know what to do. But I don't like acting from a place of fear and mistrust, and I don't like the itchy urge it produces to strike before you are struck. I think we need to find ways to help people feel safe. I think we need to help people feel more connected.
Promoting human flourishing means that people don't live in fear and isolation and worry about what happens if they can't make their skyrocketing rent or if they get sick or if their money inflates away or crashes.
It's making space for joy and beauty and love to flourish.
Part of my time over these last weeks has been trying to get my head straight on what my personal goals are–what I'm doing here, not only on Twitter but in life. I'm still sorting that out, but themes are emerging. Safety, love, and connection have come up a lot.
The world has changed at an insane pace over the last 20 years. The old systems are fraying at the seams. We need new ways of being and relating to each other and building up better, instead of hunkering down and being overwhelmed by misinformation and chaos.
I don't pretend to think I'm smart, powerful, wise, or courageous enough to find the solution for this problem. But I know that there's a LOT of collective power and savvy and optimism and love in our circles–if you're reading this, you have more power than you realize. The people who came before us have always faced seemingly-impossible odds and fought through anyway to make a better world for their children.
Optimism and Hope are incredibly powerful tools.
I was watching, of all things, a Disney movie this weekend: Rapunzel. Kids film, great film. Great metaphor. She's trapped in her tower, longs to see the world, and her mother keeps her there by frightening her, telling her she can't make it out there–that it's impossible.
There's this moment where you see Rapunzel pause and change. It's when she finally sees a path out, because a guide showed up to help her. The plan is imperfect, the road is murky. But it's a glimmer of hope. You see the decision form, the snap change ripples over her.
You see that she comes to an important realization: That if she does nothing, if she chooses to live in fear and stay with how things are, nothing will ever get better. So she chooses to do the hard thing, breaks the rules, and sets out with love and courage.
And it's not perfect! There are bumps. There are mistakes. People get hurt. But what matters is that she tries, because she knows what her dream is, and loving people, with courage, and choosing freedom and joy and kindness, is the only way out of imprisonment in fear.
There's an important lesson in this story for all of us, and it's that you always have a choice, and your choice matters. What you do matters. We shape the world we live in, we are powerful, and hope matters.
Even when the odds feel impossible, when there isn't a clear path, where you can't know what to trust, you still have your conscience. You still have your values. You still know what's right and wrong. You still have love in your heart.
You have to try your best.
Hope and Optimism aren't abstract feelings that ebb and flow. Hope and Optimism are choices that you make, individually, in your heart. They're ways of looking at world and saying, "This is imperfect, but I don't believe you when you say we can't fix this."
Real courage means standing up for what you know is right and leading by example even when it feels hard or scary, holding love and kindness for all people, rejecting hatred and aggression, and showing love and compassion even to the people who don't get it yet.
It means tackling the hard problems even when they seem impossible. We can't do it alone, but we aren't alone. You aren't alone. And when you stand up for the right thing, for love and beauty and freedom and joy and human flourishing, others do too.
I'm confident that we can solve our problems and build a brighter future. I have to be, because the alternative is giving up. The alternative is choosing fear. I'm not willing to live in fear.
I choose Optimism. I choose Hope. I choose Love.
I choose gritting through the messy mud of hard problems with no clear solutions in impossible environments in spite of all the odds against us, because I genuinely believe that together, we can find our way through.
I'm still figuring out how to best help with this work. I don't know what I can do personally. But I know I'm going to try, and I'm going to keep thinking and talking and doing and figuring it out, while holding onto that optimism and belief that we can find our way through.
I need you to care. We all need to care. The more people who believe that we can build something amazing, the fewer people who give up and start grabbing and stabbing because "I'm gonna get what I can while I can," the more we manifest our hope into reality and win together.
The biggest psy-op anyone ever pulled on you is to imagine that you can't personally affect the world, but every single interaction you have with another human changes the world forever. Your ideas matter. You matter. Your love and compassion and kindness matter.
So get your ideas out there. Talk to people. Live your values in your local community. Choose kindness and compassion and love, even when fear is more tempting. Write a blog. Plan with your friends. Make things better. Love your outgroup. Inspire others with your Hope.
No cavalry is coming to save us, but we have each other. We are strong, and we are smart, and we can fix this. Even when it seems impossible, even when you're tired enough that you want to lay down and hide and give up... reject fear.