The defeatist catchcry

Eric Lobbecke art for Salt 23 Aug

Eric Lobbecke 

I WAS chatting to a work colleague the other day and I asked whether she’d dealt with a difficult situation. “No,” she said breathing out with a sigh, “It’s all just too hard.” I asked what she meant: “I’m tired. I’m over it. I just haven’t got the energy to deal with it.”

She’s among many people who have started saying these phrases. Earlier in the week, I got an email from a friend who was telling me about her relationship problems: “I’m just over the whole thing,” she wrote. “I just can’t be bothered with this shit. I haven’t got the ­patience any more.”

A comment on my Facebook said the same thing about the political situation in Australia: “I just don’t care. It’s all gotten too much.”

In truth, I’ve uttered ­similar sentiments of late.

These defeatist, cynical comments seem to be the catchcry of 2014. Because the sad reality is that it IS all too much.

The news is depleting. The world is hurling towards total annihilation at an environmental level; and the wars … the wars … and unholy alliances; the threat again of two aggressive superpowers North Korea and Iran gaining nuclear weapons; the expansionist ideology of Russia; the Middle East exploding; bodies and more bodies everywhere; Ebola, a metaphor for our poor sick world; Robin Williams dead at 63 after battling ­depression. On a more personal level there isn’t a day when the newspapers aren’t full of sickening ­stories of child abuse, murder, cruelty, animal cruelty, and racism. Then each of us has our own winter stresses.

Grey skies make a harsh backdrop to the ­reality of working too hard, worries about money and health, domestic chores, partnerships and children, ageing ­parents, bosses, mortgages, parking fines, and major life issues such as the death of a friend to cancer. I feel that people are more worn down these days.

So into that comes a difficult work situation to resolve or a difficult friendship, a troubled marriage, or a ­nagging child. And, “I’m over it, it’s all just too hard.”

This isn’t me in a depression speaking. If you look, you’ll see “fed-up face” everywhere.

Even if there are no words spoken it’s obvious. Shop assistants have no ­energy, there’s a lethargy and fear as jobs decline, and whole industries are disappearing. On trains people reading the papers look despondent. A middle-age waitress rolled her eyes recently at a friend’s normal request.

I met up recently with a very positive person who is a beloved mentor of mine.

He was zinging with energy. His words reminded me of my spiritual practice: “It’s the way we look at the world, not the world, that’s the problem.”

I just wonder if the people of Africa, Syria, Ukraine or the sexually abused would agree.

Twitter @OstrowRuth

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