Personal entry follows.
In the documentary "Dark Circle" - which I had the opportunity to watch this evening - a protest organizer recalls the proverb about a frog being slowly boiled in water. "It's gotten worse in increments," is the way she describes current life (in the early 1980s). Although the urge for nuclear power has slowly dissolved since the 1970s, I would argue that life has simply become worse in increments since then: if not due to the prevalence of atomic energy, then by various other political and economic machinations.
The earlier segments of the film show the atomic bomb tests, the aftermath of those either burned in the blast or born shortly after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (beginning 6th August 1945, memorialized earlier this month)... US soldiers sitting in the desert during atomic bomb tests, wearing nothing more protective than their steel helmets and polarized goggles... Flying through a nuclear cloud left behind a bomb detonated just moments earlier.
It's astonishing what people voluntarily subjected themselves to, either because they were ignorant of the after-effects, or for some short term gain. In exchange, they received maybe early leave from their tour of duty, but mostly they received leukemia and bone cancer, and a denial of Veteran's benefits.
Seeing documentaries of major social issues and particularly technological turning points have a way of bringing me down. Unfortunately, I often find myself with an inability to articulate just how frustrated and powerless I feel regarding making positive, substantive change in the bigger issues that affect the majority of the world. Daily life in the United States seems to have degenerated ever since the day I was born. Through testimony and news reports from other parts of the globe I can understand that it's like that pretty much everywhere.
The thing that brings me back down to Earth is the fact that hey, I'm one of about 7.2 billion people, and I am not even a speck of fly shit in the grand design (if there even is one). The bottom line is that it's not all up to me. But regardless, what kind of upswell of inertia would it take for my efforts to actually resonate and make some kind of substantive change? When there's no hope, and everything against you, is it even worth having big plans?
How did I end up actually caring about what I do for a living? Why didn't I just get an MBA and make a killing in the stock market or whatever? I remember breaking up with a woman after she started pulling in $120K a year working for an international law firm. Her personality changed nearly the instant she was hired there. I remember her telling me, when we broke up, "If my dog hadn't died, I would have broken up with you three months ago." She then quickly added, "That's something I've been working on." The money she brought in changed everything about her, and she didn't want anything to do with me. She was becoming the kind of person I could have become, had I chosen differently in early life.
With this most recent review at my day job, I reached a financial milestone of earning $50K annually. This is at a non-profit organization, and I never thought I would be making this kind of money at a place like this. At the same time I am constantly asking myself, "Is this worth it?" Part of me feels guilty for taking in that kind of money, but the fatalist in me says that it makes no difference how much money I make because, "the way things are going it's all hitting the fan in 2021 anyway."
I'm sure there's some bigger-picture view of what my mind is going through at times like these. But it's not like 50 grand a year is anything major - at least to those with actual power. Maybe that's what it is: I am internalizing my own level of powerlessness in the world. Noble ideas but no agency, feelings of worthlessness but still being patted on the back for doing a great job.