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Full disclosure, I am not a quote/unquote Pittsburgher by residency. I have been a lifelong fan of Pittsburgh teams. I attended and graduated the University of Pittsburgh. I currently work in the city. To that end, I consider myself a Pittsburgher because I am very attached to the area in one way or another. And even if I wasn’t I would still have been affected as deeply by the events that took place in Squirrel Hill at the Tree of Life Synagogue last month. And I’m here to say that it, along with the rest of the world won’t get better.
I say that as I try to raise a daughter to not look at the most horrible negative aspects of humanity. I say that as she, too, has expressed that the world is a horrible place and everything sucks. And quite frankly, I cannot disagree with her. But I can reassure her and I want to reassure any of you that think that just because we are living through unusually extraordinary times that it means the world is never going to not suck.
Let’s face it, we’re not getting out of her alive. The moment we were born, we began to die. And that’s OK. After all, we are a living thing and like any plant or animal, our physical beings are only able to endure so much over so long a time. And no matter how much we try to prevent or protect ourselves from disease or disaster, the end result is the same. We will all die. We are born and we die. Those two points are fixed in their existence. The degree to which we exist within two points is flexible and therein lies the challenge.
Now, more than ever, we are bombarded with news and information about the world. Now, more than ever, we are aware of things that are going on outside our doors. Now, more than ever, is that information shaped to illicit a heightened reaction, physical and emotional. And our children are not immune to it. We can only guard them against technology for so long. It’s everywhere. News alerts, crawls, social media posts… It’s all out there and the more we try to wrap our children in a blanket of ignorance to protect their innocence, the harder reality tries to creep in. There is no escaping the wolf that is already in the doorway. Because of that I embrace the news and offer you a caveat in your digestion of it.
The world sucks right now. People are dying from hate and violence more than just old age. People are more divided now than they were at a time when we were actually divided by laws. People are more willing to accept that everything will get worse before it gets better. And they aren’t wrong. I’m sorry, but this is the reality we live in.
Everything we eat will kill us. If we buy it, it’s got chemicals. If we grow it, it comes into contact with chemicals. If we synthesize it, it is a chemical. The reason you like the way a certain food tastes is because they are designed that way. Natural foods have a real taste that isn’t as fun or zingy as processed. But real food tastes good if you know how to prepare it.
Our leaders all serve someone else’s interests other than our own. Oh, sure, they tell us they do. They say they will remove the corruption and drive out the evil. They dangle a small carrot to us while giving others huge bushels. But if that’s what they’ve been telling us for decades, and we keep falling for it, then why has no one actually done it?
Death is everywhere. As I said, your body is literally trying to kill you every day until it actually succeeds or loses that honor to another killer. If you eat X, it will give you Y, which is bad. But if you try to avoid X, by eating A, B will happen. If you take F it will cause you worse side effects than what G’s symptoms are.
So, there you go. It all sucks. Our food will poison us. Our government won’t protect us. And our medicine will make us sick.
Instead of sitting there, making excuses for why it doesn’t matter what you do to your body or the environment, instead of crawling into a hole and waiting to die of old age, covered in bubble wrap with no sharp edges on anything so you don’t get a cut, or instead of simply deciding that maybe a long life isn’t worth it because what reason do you have to make it to 30 when you can just gorge on processed cheese and chocolate and accept death at an early age maybe you can do something to change it.
Stop being complacent that the world is horrible and make it better. Come up with new solutions to old problems. Shout YES louder than the loudest adult who shouts NO to changing the world. Get off your ass, take a stand, and start making little changes that improve things. Get help. Organize. Make a statement.
Stop listening to what they’re telling you is wrong and start telling them what you can do to fix it. We used to make things. We used to solve problems. Now all we do is make ways for us to be enslaved by the problems we’ve created. We scare everyone into thinking the world is horrible and that it’s all coming to get you, so hide behind a shield of hate and lies and you’ll be safe from the truth.
We have access to the greatest wealth of technology and information than we have ever had and it can be used for good. All it takes is enough people to band together and use it that way.
So, unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.