There are days when you just want to wash your hands and quit humanity. You know the kind. Maybe someone (or a whole host of someones) was rude to you; maybe people were petty or spiteful or jealous or rude. Maybe the news is a nightmare, with people taking advantage of everybody else, with the powerful lording it over the under-powered, with other people not caring or people whose opinion you respect and admire turning against something you believe in, and you feel betrayed. Maybe you’re just tired, stuck up to here with your own problems, and the next person who tells you to put things in perspective is going to be smashed into ‘flat on the ground’ perspective.
Whatever it is, it’s got you tempted to quit. To just wash your hands of the whole, ugly mess of humanity and give up, give in, pack it up, get out. You want to run away and hide on an island somewhere, in a desert far away, in a lonely log cabin, at the top of a mountain where only the truly pure in spirit can reach you.
There’s a time for looking outward, for extending your perspective and taking in the troubles of the world, for feeling the full intensity of other people’s suffering, for acknowledging the role your lifestyle plays in the oppression of others (all of us do, all our lifestyles do in some way or another, even if we don’t mean to, even if we’ve got the raw end of society’s stick, society’s mess up and unequal and founded on prejudice and injustice and so if we live in society, we’re part of this mess too)… But there’s a time and a place, and if you feel like giving up, if you feel like quitting, that time and place isn’t now.
If you feel like quitting because humanity’s greed and pride and pettiness has rubbed you the wrong way and left you raw, now’s the moment to put your head down, to look inward rather than outward, and to be reminded of all the little goods you do each and every day. Now’s the time to remember what it feels like when a stranger smiles nicely at you in the supermarket. Now’s the time to remember what it sounds like when a toddler laughs. Now’s the time to remember how easy it is to remind your friends and loved ones that you’re here, that you care. Now’s the time to remind yourself of the difference you make every. single. day. in the life of at least one person on this planet, just by the very act of your existence.
There will be a time for fighting, a time for standing up against the horrors and injustices of our world. But today, if you feel like you’re about to break, if you’re raw and hurting and helping seems so, so much harder than quitting… Look down. Look in. What you do matters, even if it isn’t huge, even if it isn’t grand. Someone, somewhere, has a better life because of you.
So don’t quit. Just come sit down for a while, and we can hold each other’s hands and hurt together, and maybe the carrier bats can bring us tea and cake and cookies, and we’ll just look – inward, downward, at the small things in life. Just for a while.
Today, the big things can wait.