Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Learning not to Care

There are things in this world that we just cannot change. Learning to accept that fact is harder than just writing it on this page or acknowledging its intrinsic obviousness.

It is in my own nature to control or affect a situation that causes me concern. But far too often that is not very realistic. The state of our political environment makes my heart drop. How do you start addressing the wonton and systematic disregard for the truth in the new era of political market messaging driven by capitalism rather than democracy? Is it any surprise that so many feel disenfranchised? They are. When candidates like Hilary Clinton raise $27M in a quarter, how many votes does that buy?

I work in marketing where terms like buyer persona research and campaign ROIs determine success or failure of companies. In the end, you think about the cost of customer acquisition. These are the same in politics but they are polling and budget allocation and I’d bet that campaign managers know exactly how many votes (electoral or otherwise) $27M can buy. It’s all very sad. For most, it is much easier to give up on an external system whose participation is optional. But what about things that are much more close, personal, and frequent?

How do you watch a close friend go down an inevitable path of addiction, alienating their friends to protect their habit? How do you admit that they are all too successful in making it too painful to help? How do you admit that you will ultimately only be ineffectual? How do you be there and not? How do you offer to help and know that you can’t?

How do you watch an organization go down a path of destruction that systematically alienates the people with whom you have built close ties from serving in the trenches over long days and nights? How do you spend years fighting for something that you now realize is beyond your control?

At a certain point, you have to stop caring to survive. But what does that mean? What are you trading off for happiness or dignity? Are you turning your back on love? Are you giving up the idealism that leads to great ideas? Are you abandoning the persistence that achieves the most impossible of dreams? Is it survival? Does it get easier and easier over time to let resistance overcome us? Is this aging and maturing or dying?

Part of me hopes to God I learn how not to care. Part of me trembles at the fact that I might be.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you stop caring you will loose the real reasons for living. How will you ever find happiness if you cannot feel? Part of me thinks you have already started on that road.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is retracted.

matt said...

what about priority? it seems fatalistic to me to think of it in such black and white terms. you can still care about your friend or your company, but decide that for your own happiness (or less romantically 'utility' as economists and philosophers say) you need to care *more* about other friends, or a new company. That doesn't mean you care less (than you did), it just means there are only so many hours in the day, and days in your life (although i'm coming to doubt the latter - read Kurzweil) and in both cases the other party has made a choice too. It can't all be on you, Hiro Protagonist.

Anonymous said...

boundaries and love are very different things.

Carmel said...

Keep up the good work.