Professional Personal

The Things We Can Get Used To

There's a thought that's been stuck in my mind for a while lately. It's a rather depressing thought, and I hesitated to write this down and share it with other people, but I remembered the timeless wisdom of a friend of mine about blogging, "It's not like people read these things anyway."

When I was in high school, there was a book I read, and I don't even remember what the book was called, but there was a phrase in the book that was something like "God save us from the things we can get used to". That might not even be the right wording, but my memory of the quote stuck with me ever since. It's one of the few examples in my memory of reading something that is both new and immediately, clearly true.

When you are in a situation that is not good, and there is no good way to fix it, or the cost of fixing it is too high and it's worth tolerating for some time, you can get used to a lot. Afterwards, you look back on that time and wonder how you ever were able to do that. You realize, actually, it was that bad, or maybe even worse than you thought at the time, but only now that it's over can you realize that. It's inevitable, in life, that there are good times and bad times, and sometimes there's nothing to be done but get through, and then you find you no longer remember things being any different.

We can in fact get used to a world where people die, needlessly, from COVID-19 all the time. It's hard to keep fighting, it's mentally exhausting, and solutions are hard, but crossing our fingers and hoping it won't be us, that's easy. I see people becoming more and more careless about wearing masks. There are all sorts of theories as to why this stems from the things that you, personally, do not like about society. The selfishness of the young, the selfishness of the old, social media, a lack of respect for science, etc. I'm not saying that there aren't complex root causes on why we seem to be slowly giving up, but I think one of those root causes is pretty simple, that it's easy and natural to come to tolerate truly terrible things.

I find myself starting to slip into complacency, if I don't pay attention. Or, sometimes, into despair, which has much the same result. I have no solution, no plan in which we will all change how we deal with things, and this coronavirus problem will then be solved. What I'm trying to tell myself is, I can't change the world, or even what anyone else does, but at the end of this, I want to look back and be able to say to myself I did what I could.

Written June 20 2020