Ordinary course of events

Sun’s out, winter is nearly over. Somewhere in the East, war commences. The more things change, eh? Except ‘somewhere in the East’ this time lies way closer than my generation have ever experienced, but one can’t control someone else’s actions, only one’s reactions, so let’s calm down over a spa day.


Finding the right balance between ignorance and awareness is a tricky little dance over the tightrope because one can’t exist without the other and too much of anything will kill you.

There is undeniable beauty in being uninformed. It’s pure peace of mind, being unintentionally blind to something. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the intentional counterpart. I’ll give you an example.

You’re likely not currently volunteering in your local homeless shelter, which makes two of us. Now, everything is perfectly fine with that because you never actually have a sit in with yourself and think: so why am I not helping? There’s nothing to it; it’s how you’ve always done it, or rather how you’ve always not done it, so there’s no reason to stop and think about it. It’s just not a thing that exists in your mind.

The petty problems begin as soon as you become aware of it. As soon as it becomes a conscious decision to not volunteer at your local homeless shelter, that’s when weight is attached to the issue. Think about it, have a sit in with yourself for a minute. Would you like to start volunteering? You wouldn’t. Obviously, any conscious decision we make requires reasoning, even we don’t usually spell it out for ourselves. So what would be the reasoning here? Well, I can give you mine: I don’t care enough. Life is energy consuming and I have only a certain amount of energy that I’m willing to give away externally before I feel uncomfortable and drained, and my comfort is more important to me than alleviating the sorrow of genuinely hard-hit people who mean nothing to me.

It sounds harsh, but it’s true, and it’s true for you as well if after reading this and being made aware of the issue you still decide not to volunteer.

So here’s the interesting bit. Externally, nothing has changed before and after I have considered why I’m not volunteering. I haven’t done it before, I’m not doing it still, so everything’s the same. However, when I wasn’t volunteering because I hadn’t considered it, I was blissful and innocent. Now, I’ve made it a conscious decision based on my not wanting to do it. All of a sudden, it’s gotten more complicated. Am I a worse person? Or am I just a worse person than I thought I was? I mean, if I had a button that gave all the homeless a place to stay and food, I’d press it – so I’m not the devil – but I sure as hell won’t spend any of my time trying to engineer that thing – so don’t keep a seat for me at the angels’ table.

This opens up an ocean of interesting possibilities. How many things, issues, occurences are there in the world that I’m currently not aware of and that I will later consciously reject, over the course of my life opening up to the truth that I’m just not that good of a person? Awareness is a train of thought that’s got faulty brakes and is headed into a concrete wall, so you want to get off at the next station.

People choose different stations to exit the train.

Some find purpose in something, give back to the community, which is their way of soothing their conscience (an unnecessary and self-deceptive exercise). You know the kind, ranging anywhere between sharing Instagram stories and organising a rubber dinghy demonstration. Some donate, and immediately forget (a faster solution, though monetarily costlier, but what’s money for if not to buy time). They then can think to themselves that they’ve at least done something, I mean noone can expect me to drop everything but at least I have empathy, eh? Some make a point of showing that they reject awareness and despise anyone who tries to get some empathy out of them because that’s weak. They’ll stand on their porch with a shotgun telling you to get off their lawn screaming that they care only for their own family (in reality, they care for noone but themselves).

No matter what station you name, they’re all located in the same county, and that county’s called ignorance. The very few who don’t exit here all have one thing in common: the issue they’re invested in is genuinely at their heart. Maybe they’ve been homeless themselves, or are friends with someone who is. You can tell them apart because they don’t have that whole holier-than-thou attitude about the thing they care for (it would be easy to mock them, still, but I suppose without them we’d have no social progress, so if I’m not going to actively contribute I might at least keep my mouth shut about them).

As for all the rest of us, me and you (don’t kid yourself), we’ve got to find our station and get right out of that train because ignorance, in certain amounts, is important, healthy. It prevents you from hyperawareness, and also from acting too aware for your own good.

It’s always amusing to see just somebody (some local politician, that actor from that one film, a musician that’s been touring somewhere close and, therefore, feels connected to the people) come on national television and give their opinion on big things far away like war, arms shipments, that sort of thing. It’s even more amusing when they demand to be heard because they genuinely think their opinions matter.

It is very important (if you intend to live honestly with yourself) to stop being invested in things that you will only ever care for a little. Trust me, and repeat this like a mantra: Whatever you do half-heartedly will always be outdone by someone who’s in it with his whole heart. This goes for good things and bad. If somebody whole-heartedly intends to seize power and go back to the age of imperialism and spends his lifetime trying to achieve his goal, it doesn’t matter what your fleeting opinion on the morality of that choice is. As for the outcome itself, you just have to hope that there are enough people whose life goal it is to stop that first person. Far more interesting is why you don’t care for the matter enough to be in it with your whole heart, and after the dust settles, whether you still like the person that makes you – because you’ve got to live with him or her.

To stick with our example, I’m not volunteering at a homeless shelter because I just don’t care enough, and after considering this I come to the conclusion that I still like myself, but now it seems that I also don’t much care about war breaking out some 2.000 kilometres away so I might have to recalibrate what I thought about myself yet again. You see how repetitive and dull awareness gets? That’s why we look back in envy at when we were still children and were sheltered from the world, back when we were neither aware nor ignorant. Ignorance is not the absence of awareness, it’s merely the reserve of it, and the phrase blissful ignorance is technically a bit off. Once you know, you can’t go back, not really. You can only mute it – and if you have nothing you’re genuinely invested in, you probably should mute it. 

So where does that leave me? Which of the stations that I described do I pick to get off the awareness train? Neither. I go to Berlin. That’s where I stashed the chandelier.

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