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Defusing the Bomb, or A Clumsy Dance with Optimism



A sinister feeling has been slowly creeping up on me over the past few years, commensurate with my increasing level of awareness of (first) all of the evil shit that's going down in the world, and (second) all of the greedy, compassion-less bastards that are exacerbating the problems and/or stymieing the significantly smaller chunk of humanity that genuinely gives a damn.

My warm-blooded, liberal heart has for so long hoped that the goodness inside each of us will ultimately prevail, that we'll eventually stop persecuting people based on their religion (or lack thereof), skin color, sexual identity, or nationality, that we'll some day stop trying to kill each other, stop exploiting everything and everyone that we come across.

Imagine, if you will, that all of the hate in the world is a bomb (fitting, considering the implications of certain hate-filled groups in the world with easy access to nuclear and biological weapons). The bomb is about to explode, causing a massive amount of damage to everyone involved. Hate, avarice, and stupidity push this bomb closer to the detonation point. Meanwhile, folks can either (one) try to defuse the bomb, putting themselves in dangerous proximity or (two) get the hell out of the way - as far away as possible, in fact. Just forget the bomb and enjoy your life. Accept that the world is extremely unfair, while celebrating your relative luck. And what luck! Westerners are on the winning side. We're the exploiters, the rich, the powerful. Morally questionable? Certainly, but what the hell. They believe the bomb is going to go off eventually anyway. If something cataclysmic doesn't happen, the world will just slowly transform into a starving, war-torn, polluted dump.

As I was driving to work today, I noticed the trash truck in front of me was losing trash along the interstate, one significant chunk every thousand feet or so. What could I do? For all I knew, there were hundreds of trash trucks in Kansas City at that same moment littering the streets with resident garbage.


And this is really where I've come to. I observe the world falling apart. I take note of how tragic it is. Maybe I even appreciate the aesthetic qualities of a world falling apart. Is that sick or what? 


This is odd coming from somebody involved in nonprofit work, I'm sure. Understand that, despite my best efforts at optimism, I've been surrounded by people who say, as if jeering at me from a safe distance, "There will never be an end to war/racism/sexism/intolerance/whathaveyou. That's because each person is born with original sin. Only in heaven will things be really good. On earth, we're doomed to live in a dying planet." I guess they were right, at least partway.


But if you're one of those people, I want to make one thing clear: you aren't right because it's impossible to fix the world's problems. You're right because there are enough jackasses like you who are too cynical or cowardly or apathetic to approach the bomb. There are too many bystanders and not enough defusers. And unless we find a cure for stupidity and ignorance, there will always be more people pushing the bomb closer to detonation than there are trying to defuse it.
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