On being at peace with the world

I am sometimes told by people who are older than me (if not necessarily wiser, if I may be so bold) that I should be more at peace with myself and the world. Now, I don't doubt that I should be more at peace with myself - I know first-hand the consequences of being otherwise, and they are not pretty. I venture so far as to say that they are perhaps less pretty than the consequences of other people, more normal, less isolated, a little more pliable and a little less vulnerable than I am, not being at peace with themselves - for few of us are, I think, it's just that most of us are very good at hiding it.

Anyway, enough of the regurgitated, exaggerated pseudo-wisdom of a sixteen-year-old who frankly hasn't got a fucking clue what she's talking about half the time...I do think that being more at peace with oneself is a good thing, but being at peace with the world is quite a different matter. You see, this world is a shitty place - don't believe the people who tell you life is beautiful. If life were beautiful, we wouldn't have a wrecked planet and a broken society on our hands, and no matter whether it's gifted you with talents or good friends, it is my experience that no amount of beauty, skill or goodness can make up for the profound injustice of the world - an injustice which could also be remedied were things to be shaken up enough, which they generally aren't. You're born, your parents fuck your life up, then you and your classmates join in, you become a wage slave and then you decay and die, all against a backdrop of climate change and capitalist exploitation.

Tell me again how life is this wonderful, sacred gift to be treasured. Oh, treasure it if you will, just don't expect everyone to feel the same way you do.

I suppose what I'm saying, in too many words, is that the world is cruel and yet it doesn't have to be that way. That's perhaps the greatest tragedy: things could change, and - for so many reasons - they don't. It is not inevitable that things should be this way. And then sage and hoary heads tell me to be at peace with a harsh world, when it could be softened?! No!

I refuse to make my peace with this world as long as it is still fundamentally an unjust place, and I refuse this because to try and hollow out a comfortable life for myself while ignoring the suffering of others and the networks that lead to that suffering would be nothing short of a betrayal, a betrayal of all my fellow creatures. I don't doubt that it would make me a happier, more stable person - but I am willing to sacrifice my personal happiness and health for the happiness and health of all. And that's not because I want to be a special, sacrificial snowflake, but because I don't care about myself enough to put myself before the billions and trillions of organisms on this planet. That wouldn't just be selfish, it would be positively absurd.

I am well aware that I am young and staking out a position that might be very difficult to stick to. I am well aware, too, that I will grow and change. Perhaps one day, when I am grey-haired and thick around the waist, I'll decide that making peace with the world is easier than the futile task of fighting it.

At this point I'd like to make a confession: I don't do nearly enough in the way of getting out on the streets and protesting. I'm a bad person, I know. More worryingly, I also have problems looking after myself - partly because I'm past caring some days and partly because I have no motivation to do so. Sometimes, I have problems picking up a pen and writing; I have problems typing and putting a coherent, properly punctuated sentence together. I even lose my ability to speak at times, simply because I can't force my lips open. The upshot of this is that not only do I not do enough, I also go through periods where I would barely function were I not living in some kind of framework (going to school for most of the day, living with nagging, doting parents) that forces me to do so - and this does not make for good speech material, believe me. It makes sentences clunky as hell, for a start. But if I can go out on the streets, if I can write, if I can speak out - then I will, and I will keep trying to change the world if it destroys me. It's happened before, in a sense, and if it happens again...Well, again, I'm really bad at writing inspiring speeches. I don't know whether it's worth forcing myself into a protracted mental breakdown over writing for the cause - whatever that cause is. I don't know whether it's really worth tearing myself up over what someone I've never met and will likely never meet said about something they likely as not know jack shit about, simply because I hold some youthful and very possibly misplaced respect for them. And the more I try and push myself to be good, to be dutiful, to be devoted, to immerse myself unquestioningly in the distilled ideals of centuries, the more and more flawed everything seems to be when it puts my life and health at stake.

I toy with the idea of setting aside grand ideas, of forsaking the cause, the collective, the hive, whatever you want to call it, in favour of...what? Not settling down to a life of keeping house and going for drives in the countryside. Not settling down to a life of demonising the vulnerable. Not settling down to a simple, selfish life focused on the pursuit of my own happiness - I hope. No, a life of quiet, desperate resistance against the world, with the determination to do the best I can for my fellow beings. Nothing more, nothing less. Back when I was more stable, I used to have that attitude; some say I've done things I should be proud of with that mindset, though they shock me too much for me to really take any pride in them. I have trouble believing I really could have done those things.

It's not an ideal solution; it's the confused first little thoughts of a confused mind. But torn between accepting a needlessly cruel world and breaking myself down following bad ideas and worse figureheads, this confused mind of mine is having trouble seeing another way of life.


  1. I have the state of the world too. However, I have a medical condition and have to look after myself, I don't feel safe being in the financial position that I am in. I also wish so much for a better state of health. I think its necessary to find your way to a comfortable level of wealth otherwise there is a very limited amount you can do for anyone. This means making some money, not for the sake of greed but security and survival. In this sense there is a compromise you have to make with the world. However, once you have enough to live, it is much easier, and safer to pursue social justice. I pursue social justice in the small ways that I can anyway, but its not advisable to accept personal poverty. I hate it, it makes it even tougher to fight against the evils of the world because its hard enough just looking after yourself


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