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Focus

There is a scene in The Sword, one of the Raj Whitehall novels by David Drake and Stephen Stirling, where Lady Whitehall is fussing over some detail of Raj's dress uniform*, and he reflects that it's very much like someone in a situation that's so out of control that they focus on the very small thing that they can actually affect. I have felt for quite some time that the media, and social media especially, want to distract us from our own collections of very small things - the things in our lives that we should be concentrating on because they have an immediate impact on our lives, our neighbors, the small communities we actually live in as opposed to the huge nation that is also our home, but that we have very little actual control over. The media want us to get excited over what happens in Washington, New York, LA, Riyadh, Kabul - yes, even Manchester - when in fact there is little or nothing we ourselves can do. We go to the polls every couple of years and vote for politicians who we hope will do a good job representing most of the things we believe need doing, but that's about all we can do. The opportunities to be involved in the Great Game of global politics just don't come along very often for most of us, and even at the national level, it can take decades to come into a position of even minor influence.

Now, if you have the leisure time, influence, and/or money to get involved in these things, by all means, do so. The fact remains that a lot of us don't, and trying to be involved in them is going to turn us into unpleasant cranks who are dogmatically committed to certain points of view and won't shut up about them. I've been one of those people, and it wasn't very fun.

Fixating on this big-picture stuff will drive you crazy if you pay too much attention to it, and despite having been tangled up in it for most of my life, I need to take a step back and concentrate my efforts on the parts of this world that are going to do the most good. I have to connect with friends, work on the small things in my life and my several communities that I can affect, and disconnect from the things I can't. Depending on my discipline and my health** I probably have a little over a couple decades left to me in which I can do things for friends, family, and other folks I care about. "And maybe they'll be happy for a while." One can hope.


*Minutes before an audience where everyone expects the paranoid Governor Barholm Clerett to order Raj executed.
**Yeah, I'm fucked.