30 August 2007

Proximity breeds difficulty

Why do people spend incredible amounts of energy on the inhuman atrocities in Darfur, yet completely ignore issues closer to home, or even in their own minds? "Fix that, over there!", they yell, holding up a protest sign and sending a few bucks to some charity. Yet, when confronted with the disaster which is American politics, or local homelessness, or local food banks needing money, they ignore them or even get angry that they exist.

The closer the problem, the more difficult the solution. It's like steering a car. If you are on a highway that lightly curves to one side, it's fine. Yet, if you were going 55 miles per hour in a residential street and then had to navigate a 90-degree turn immediately, it's a lot of effort.

So, how can one ever solve any "proximal issues"? Slowly, and over time. If you reduce the speed of the car, you can make that 90-degree turn safely. In the meantime, you'll also see the surrounding houses, children playing, or the park past which you are driving. You get more from slowing down than just a solution; you get life.

Slow down. Solve issues closer to yourself, your home, and your community. If we all did this, all the problems — including huge, "distant" problems like Darfur — would be solved, as everything is local to somebody.