As I approach retirement there has developed an undercurrent of change in my philosophical perspective of life, reality, and, most of all, what constitutes happiness. I had always felt a compulsion to stay informed of current events and in touch with the changing mores of society. But as many others have also experienced, there is a general sense of hopelessness and apathy about the ability of our civilization to overcome the scourge of war(s) and the tyranny of government. I am increasingly less compelled to devote a percentage of my day to watching the madness played out in the news media as it seems to be just a broken record repeating the same old tired song. How is my life impacted by all this negativity? Does choosing not to be aware of these circumstances and situations make me derelict? Do I have a duty as a concerned human being to subject myself to the constant barrage that has at it's core the inability of humans to peacefully coexist? Should I feel a compulsion to actively participate in some minisculel way to effect the change so sorely needed? Especially when I consider that just living a peaceful life myself and treating others as equals is not going to change the core problems our civilization faces.

So if I decide to "tune out" and withdraw from all the negativity am I failing my fellow human? Is it selfish to indulge oneself in books of poetry and communing with nature while remaining oblivious to the ongoing tragedies so many are faced with around the world? This is a troublesome issue for me as I clearly understand that this evolving attitude, if adopted by everyone, would certainly make the needed change in the world that less possible. These mixed emotions are hard to address as I struggle to reach a place that provides me lasting contentment.

How do you balance your position in life in respect to the needs of the world and your own selfish desires?

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"Do what you love most, and for however long you are able to do it you will love life."

Unfortunately for me I was well nigh forty before I discovered my passion for woodworking. Time flies effortlessly by when the wood shavings are flying. 

ED: Congrats on your up comming retirement. I have another ten years to go. I'm 56.

About twenty years ago I was set to attend my sister in laws wedding. I grew up from the school of 'lets put money in an envelope and give it to the bride and groom as our present to them'. Logic being, who doesn't like money? My wife was aghast; how could I even think of doing that. I was like, WTF??? She explains to me that her sister, the Wall Street banker, is really well off. What does she want to do with money? What she wants is for us to take the "time" to go to the store and pick out a toaster or an iron, wrap it, and give it to her. The most valuable thing I can give anyone is my time.

Here is how I see completely tuning out; in the 2008 election for President, if I tuned out we may be seeing President McCain bombing the crap out of Tripoli, Syria, and Russia completely as a knee jerk reaction. He may succumb to a heart attack and, 'you betcha', we may be addressing President Palin who would be lobbing nukes at 'I can see Russia from my house'. I wouldn't be able to do anything about the earthquake victims in Haiti or the sunnami victims in Japan. Even if by doing something it's contributing a small sum to the Red Cross. But, I wouldn't have to deal with the repetitive drivel and the same tired human tragedy's that befall all of us humans in one way or the other. So I guess there are positives to tuning out.

Richard Pryor, when addressing racism toward his skin color said, "It's really hard to be a human. And then to have color thrown in makes it even harder." He was alluding to having an argument with a white person and haveing the person resort to calling him the "N" word. But man if he isn't right about how hard it is to be a human...

I am basically the same age as you are Noel. I am not going into full retirement but work part time (1 day a week) and continue to make product as a woodworking artisan here at home. I have a very peaceful existence here in the backwoods of the Ozark Mountains. But lately it seems that keeping up with current events and all the negativity associated with it has become an emotional drain. I want to emphasize the positive aspects in my life and that may mean avoiding the news media that bombards us with your "repetitive drivel of human tragedy."

I have the same issue as you, usually it all boils down to 'I have no time'. I work full time, go to college part time, I'm engage and marrying next year, as well as paying a previous student loan and paying my current enrollment in college.

There's so much wrong here and I have tons of ideas that work in my mind, I want to let them be known, campaign for them. But considering my ideas lean more towards socialism/communism, I fear they won't get traction or, if they get too popular, get myself killed.

Most people that vouche for our rights are usually uneducated and in their later years that can hardly see beyond their immediate needs or other views. Which is another reason for my interest in participating in politics. But i need to learn a lot more about economics, politics and sociology before I feel ready to enter the stage.

I feel much as you do.  When I find myself becoming agitated about current events, I try to step back and not let myself become embroiled.  I am 70 years old and know without a doubt that there is little I can actually do.

One of the problems I tune out is the extinction of so many species of animals around the world.  I can not even watch a news story about it because it makes me so depressed and angry.  So I simply ignore it because I know that I can do absolutely nothing about it.  I take some solace in the thought that nature comes to bat last and will sort it all out.  Whether we as humans like the solution is another story.  

This is an example of how I sometimes feel. With regard to the plight of many animal species the situation could grow worse if not for those who do become activists and draw attention to the problem. It's a huge commitment and you have to decide if this particular issue is important enough to warrant active involvement. By not contributing to a solution and remaining disconnected are we in a way partly responsible for their demise? This could be said for any number of issues that were confronted with as a civilization.

I can choose to live in a bubble and not digest the continuing plight of our planet. Do the things that bring me happiness and remain resigned to accept that which I choose not to try and change. Mixed emotions for sure.

RE: By not contributing to a solution and remaining disconnected are we in a way partly responsible for their demise?

Yes, but we cannot solve everything. I love the quote by Jonathan Kozol, "Pick battles important enough to matter, small enough to win."

You can dedicate yourself to a cause without trying to be everything to everybody.

I am dedicating myself (for example) to green energy...that is hopefully going to be my contribution to our planet's future. I do not have the emotional stamina to help in other ways even though I might like to. It is always a collaborative effort.


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