the return: if not back, where do we go from here?

It’s been 20 days since my last edit. Regardless of my abstinence, nothing appears to be different. On the contrary, the world is still tormented by the same atrocities, be it a slowly fading pandemic, a recession, and last but not least, a war. A war. A fucking war. With all sincerity, I can’t believe that I am picking it up exactly where I left it. During all this time, I have been trying to understand how I feel about all this, but I am so numb. It is simply impossible to assimilate that we are galloping backwards with such senseless, anti-progressive velocity. Right before the war, I was still optimistic about exiting the foggy past 2 years and gradually resuming life in a more peaceful mode. Now, I wonder if such return is even possible: if not back, where do we go from here?

First of all, how do we unsee the terror of this ongoing war? Most importantly, should we unsee it? I am afraid not, since wars should not fall under the category of forgiveness and forgetfulness, at least not before historic assessment and preemptive measures occur. How have we coped so far, while crimes are broadcasted 24/7 through every screen we have access to? “The revolution will not be televised”. Well, the war certainly is, resistance certainly is, so revolution may be as well. The real question is, will we know what, or whom, we are rebelling against?

I have been thinking about this for a good while; the one we need to rebel against might be our own self. How disappointingly we have handled the development of this tragedy! And I mean, all of it, not just the war. Sometimes, I feel that we have been holding our breaths until “things return to normal”. What does this state of normality entail exactly? Which parts of us do we consider normal? Normality aside, which parts have we lost, which parts have we gained, and ultimately, which of all the above should we retract, keep, or discard?

Personally, I feel that I have never paid closer attention to the world as much as the past 2-3 years. Surely, I learned a lot, but I also made observations that have been extremely painful to bear, even if understandable. One particularly controversial assumption is the dysfunctional yet unavoidable emotional escapism, with which we have been reacting to our traumatic reality. We are simply out of emotional reserves, yet we must somehow go on. Yes, there is war; yes, there is sickness; yes, there is recession. But. There is also life, survival, hope. There should also be life, survival, hope. Unless we allow ourselves to keep on living as good as possible, we jeopardise giving in to darkness entirely, only filling our agenda with death and destruction. Even if it feels off, we must keep our moral high enough to stay afloat.

This is what I bring to mind every moment I catch myself feeling guilty about forgetting the war, the pandemic, the recession, the lives getting lost: every human brain needs escape windows to survive situations that exceed one’s limits of tolerance. After all, this is what survival is all about: either in awareness or in spontaneity, one should constantly find balancing mechanisms, to ultimately avoid turning even the kindest virtues into the cruelest vices. A personal struggle has served as a great example to help me understand this better: as I always scrutinise my thoughts and actions, I recently caught myself laying a bit too comfortably in a situation that, not too long ago, would have broken my spirit completely.

For the past 20 days, I have been deprived of my computer. As far as I can remember, this has never occurred before; not being able to access my files, especially for such a long period of time, has always been a scary and stressful possibility. Nonetheless, I have managed to once again surprise myself: alarmingly enough, my initial frustration soon gave room to relief. What makes things even more worrisome, is how differently I have been feeling about the effects of long covid, which have altered significantly my lifestyle, affecting above and foremost not just my productivity, but also my efficiency. During this period, I have pushed myself so much to remain affirmative, productive, and efficient, that deep down I felt somewhat grateful that my computer took a break, forcing me to give myself a break as well. The problem is, why do I have to crash in order to understand that my resources are poorly managed?

From the individual to the collective: why do we have to crash in order to understand that our resources are poorly managed? Did we have to go through all this to appreciate ourselves and our limits better? Will we assimilate our learnings? How long will this appreciation last? Will the losses be evaluated and honoured? Most importantly, will we seek refuge in the good, old days, or realise that forward is the only direction to go, putting to best use the educative pain we have all suffered? Through my most optimistic lens, the answers to all these questions and the transformative power that can drive qualitative change and guide us towards a brighter future, lie entirely on our hands; however, we must allow ourselves to mourn before we feel empowered enough to move forward. Have a lovely Sunday.



internal literature

w.a.r.: we are responsible / definitions of war, liberalvirtue

external literature

Haunted by history, Aeon

We heal one another, Aeon

The fog of grief, Aeon

The Great Resignation is less important than the workers who don’t quit, Quartz

The aftermath of wars, The Harvard Gazette

How to Cope With Stress and Anxiety Caused by the War in Ukraine, verywell mind

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