Peak Global Worry

A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and I worry about tornados in Texas.

One of the consequences of our globalized world and our expanding sense of our interdependence is the globalization of worry. Think globally, act locally is good advice, but is often misconstrued as worry globally and huddle in a corner locally.

What can you do about the rise of the alt-right? Climate change? Plastics in the worlds oceans? Do those questions make you feel empowered to go out and make a change or do they make you want to take a nap? Many of us have a sense of our very personal implication in combating these ills combined with a profound sense of powerlessness. We are told that we must “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has” and then we are confronted with problems that seem to baffle the will of tens of millions of thoughtful, committed citizens. Perhaps we just need to be more thoughtful.

I have an analysis of why we get this mixed message, how it serves the very wealthy and the very powerful but this is blog about the mind. Suffice it to say that there are things we can impact and things we can’t impact and lots of the everyday, run-of-the-mill grief that I see comes from people mistaking which is which, coupled with common-though-odd, unexamined ideas about how we actually make an impact. (Hint: Clenching your jaw and shoulders while you scroll through social media posts about the approaching enviro-pocalypse does NOT reduce carbon emissions).

I am not a quietist. I believe in change, in action. But worry isn’t action. Awareness doesn’t have an impact. They may be prompts to action but in and of themselves they do nothing. And for many people, at certain doses awareness and worry become a serious hurdle to effective action. So. Think Globally, Act Locally, and Reduce Your Reliance on Worry.