The Privilege of the Perfect Solution Fallacy

Between the protests peaceful rebellion turning to riots violent in Baltimore (and associated media bullshit), and the earthquake in Nepal, it’s been a week of very, very bad news.

Here I sit, safely in my sanctuary of a home in a good upper-middle-class neighborhood thinking how I just don’t know what to do with this world.

I can sign all the petitions, collect for charity to donate to something like Doctors Without Borders to help with Nepal, and maybe… maybe… find some way to help with the huge problem of racism, classism, police violence, and grossly biased narratives in my home country that place the value of a stolen carton of cigarettes or a smashed window over the lives of countless black citizens… but none of it will ever be enough.

This sense of powerlessness, of hopelessness is two things:

On the one hand, it’s my depression overwhelming me again, as it does. “When something is wrong, fix it. When everything is wrong, fix yourself.” That’s biochemistry, and a disability, and a way in which I am disadvantaged that means I have to pick my battles, sure.

On the gripping hand, it’s also my privilege to have lived in a context where power was something I fully expected to have in the first place, where it’s ever news to me that these things are happening, that people are in desperate, dire straits all over the world, that there is still, and always has been violent, fatal levels of oppression not just “somewhere”, but right here.

The thing is, it’s NOT news.

Now, I’m honestly not sure there IS a reliable way to win this fight, to improve this world in lasting ways. At least not a way within my reach alone. But I realize that in thinking no solution is worth implementing unless it achieves that, what I’m really saying is, no solution is worth implementing unless it restores my privilege to ignore the larger problem.

When I see that in others, I can’t help but think they don’t really want to implement a solution. But I realize when I see it in myself, it’s not that at all. It’s that I’m daunted by the fact that I don’t see any solutions that seem good enough, and I’m already exhausted before I ever begin. But that, again, is my depression talking, and depression lies.

The point is to do what I can do, to encourage others to do what they can do, to not let anyone sit down and do less, and most of all, to figure out what we can do together that is beyond the power of any of us separately.

I admit, today I have no idea what that actually is. But it’s my responsibility to keep looking until I figure it out.

–Ember–

 

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About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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5 Responses to The Privilege of the Perfect Solution Fallacy

  1. Thank you for posting this. It’s nice to see there are other people out there who care enough to speak up but aren’t so awash in New Age crap that they feel they can safely ‘send up positive vibes’ and think they’ve done enough and that a great global critical mass will occur and brotherhood will be the rule of the day.[Just like Jesus but with a slightly hipper rap] People like that are almost as much the problem as people who show no concern whatever.

    I suffer from depression as well; I’m on disability and have to manage my life on 700 bucks a month plus some foodstamps. Financial strain can grow to toxic levels by itself but add to that everything else toxic going on in the world and some days I get physically ill just from bad news. There are days when I log onto facebook and see that my home page is a steady stream of global unrest, corporate greed, sarcastic memes and maybe one or two actual, personal statuses. Two weeks ago it got to be so bad I was logging off facebook and going on crying jags because I felt helpless, powerless and just sick with rage at the power elite [I consider the military and police officers to be part of that because their job is primarily to protect the wealthy from the poor. As it has ever been throughout history.] My poor ex-husband spent the better part of a decade trying to get his own family to listen up and believe him when he told them there’s outrageous shit going down all over the place and that’s it’s just a drop of water on a still pond. Well now it’s rippling and the family still wont listen unless it directly impacts them. Selfish much? The rest of them just say, “Ohhhh wellll!…anyways…God Bless America.” then go about their lives without a further thought because they’re just comfortable enough money-house-car-food-job-wise to ignore it with some success .

    I gotta admit: I have no clue what to either. Occupy Pittsburgh ended up being a joke. The first year, 5000 people turn up. The following anniversary year, only a couple dozen show up. That tells me that the previous year 4,980-ish people were just there to gawk and be entertained. And the anniversary project was tainted by propaganda to create false security as well. Long, disgusting story but obviously true if you look close enough at it.

    I weep and fear for humanity.
    And I feel scared for myself sometimes too. I always have to feel put through an emotional wringer when they wont balance the govt. budget and threaten to stop sending Social Security and disability payments.

    Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      > Two weeks ago it got to be so bad I was logging off facebook and going on crying jags because I felt helpless, powerless and just sick with rage at the power elite

      *gentle hugs* I have had many similar experiences. Significantly reducing my Facebook intake has helped quite a bit, actually. Facebook in particular seems to be pretty toxic.

      > It’s nice to see there are other people out there who care enough to speak up but aren’t so awash in New Age crap that they feel they can safely ‘send up positive vibes’ and think they’ve done enough and that a great global critical mass will occur and brotherhood will be the rule of the day.

      Ahh, yeah. I mean, I’m familiar with the phenomenon, but I’m hardly the most motivated activist in my social circles. Occupy was a powerful force around here, and they’re not entirely done with the work.

      I don’t agree with you, though, that the other 4000+ were only there to be entertained. Showing up at all to an Occupy event takes quite a bit of energy, after all. It’s quite likely the other 4000+ had simply lost their sense of urgency on the matter, which is very easy to do in our world of short attention span theatre.

      -E-

      Like

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