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Have I Reached the Tipping Point?
August 1, 2014
by Spencer Santilli

I’m exhausted, I’ve had enough, and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up.

No, I’m not a correspondent on the front lines of war.  I’m not the one taking heart-wrenching photos of children who’ve been ripped apart by bombs, and I’m not wearing a bullet proof vest in a conflict zone.  I’m not rushing to the scene of a downed plane and I’m not risking my life to interview the leader of any resistance force or terrorist organization.  Taking all of these things  into consideration I’m still wiped out from the endless barrage of horrific news that pulses through my brain day in and day out—and I’m left wondering what good it does.

Is there a tipping point?  Have I reached the point where I finally realize that the “good” done by writing about these events is no longer worth the mental/emotional fatigue I feel by simply being cognizant of the trials and tribulations of the world? There is something to be said for being oblivious to world issues—life is far less complicated and sleep seems to come more easily.  Instead of gaining gratification from my writing, I’m burdened by this immense hopelessness that stems from trying to remain informed.  I see very few politicians worth trusting.  The surveillance state is a harsh reality that will likely become the biggest political issue in ensuing decades.  My generation’s future hinges on baby boomer debt and student loans. Hope, for me, has become a distant vision hampered by the vicious reality of humanity’s destructive nature.

Really though, the question is how much of my own mental sanity am I prepared to fork over in order to continue my role exploring the evils of the world?  As things sit now, I’m not sure that the benefits truly outweigh the darkness that comes with being a realist.  When the rest of the world seems hell-bent on destroying itself, what good could I possibly do from little old Western New York?  You might say, write about something uplifting or good—to which I would say, “It’s been so long, I think I’ve forgotten how.”  It is nice to be able to use my talent to expose corruption and wrongdoings, but I think I’d rather use my talent to write about something I enjoy.

I’m at the proverbial crossroads of my life, and I gain some kind of solace by venting these concerns.  I’m nearing twenty-five years old and a third of my life (if I’m lucky) is already behind me.  I’ve already lived a longer, more satisfying, life than many people do.  Men and women my age are being gunned down by power hungry “leaders” and religious radicals all over the world.  Am I really doing them a service by writing about the horrible things that they’ve endured? Granted I am raising awareness, but I sometimes feel it selfish to believe I’m making an impact in the world when I’m doing so much less than so many others?  Then again, even the people posting pictures of dead children and mutilated bodies must be struggling to see the promise in what they’re doing.  If a picture of a fire-scorched toddler still strapped into a child seat from the wreckage of MH17 can’t immediately quell the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, what can?

We live in a world where misinformation is more prevalent and dominating than the truth (perhaps we always have), and the media constantly blows inconsequential “news” out of proportion.  I live in a culture where more tears would be shed if the Kardashian’s private jet was taken out of the sky than over the tragedy of Malaysian flight 17.  I can’t fix this, and with limited exposure, no amount of my writing has the power to alter American culture as a whole.  Granted if every writer, artist, or performer felt this way we wouldn’t have most of the beautiful art we do. I’m  surrounded by a society that predominately values the ego-tickling “likes” of social media pages over whether or not they can carry themselves in a real-life conversation.  Often there is more focus on our digital selves, than the presentation of our human selves in the real world.  We all live in a society that somehow still thinks Dick Cheney, John McCain, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and John Boehner are capable leaders whose opinions should be valued.  These are just a few things that make me cringe with fear-laced anxiety, but the list goes on and on. 

There is Vladimir Putin, the glorified Bond villain, eagerly pushing Russia towards what seems to be any form of armed conflict and a return to Cold-War era media control and deception.  Ebola, arguably the world’s most terrifying disease, is spreading all throughout western Africa and beyond the reach of modern medicine.  Monster dual tornados, immense typhoons, and warming oceans all result in a never-ending debate over the facts of global warming and climate change.  I live in a culture where it is acceptable to show people being killed a million different ways on television, but it still isn’t acceptable to say goddamn or asshole.  It is no wonder that people choose to immerse themselves in the falsities of social media, television, and the internet—those things are simply more attractive than remaining cognizant of current events.  It is all so overwhelming to me, and the fact that I’ve chosen to keep my eyes open is weighing heavy on my fractured soul. 

There are times I get so frustrated with the United States that my rage borders physical illness.  I tremble just thinking about the upcoming presidential campaigns and the incompetent liars that will attempt to sway public opinion their way by simply saying what they believe we want to hear.  Obama preached a campaign of “hope,” “change,” and the reversal of Bush-era policies—yet the drastic opposite has occurred.  Barack Obama promised his voters that he would push to preserve the American dream for the diminishing middle class, but the only dream I have is hoping to one day pay off my student loans and to move out of my parent’s one-story ranch.  Instead of proposing billion dollar bills to improve our own country, Congress has repeatedly sent "aid" to countries like Ukraine, Egypt, and Israel who have yet to show why they are worthy of our money.  It is hard not to feel like a broken record going off on the same things I’ve bitched about for well over a year now. I've reached the point where my frustration with the world is all-encompassing.

This takes me back to my “all-knowing” high school years when I pondered, “What is it all for?”  I’m still looking for that answer, but six years later all I have is a bunch more evidence suggesting that nothing is the answer.  I’ve been miraculously given the gift of life on the planet earth, and I get to spend it paying most of my wages to the government and being bombarded by horrendous news and gory pictures.  Is this really how I want my life to play out?  Do I really envision myself continuing to pursue the “truth” no matter how bloody, terrifying, and sickening the pursuit becomes?  At this point, I cannot say for certain what I’ll search out.  However that being said, some days I wonder if burying my head in the sand is that bad of an option.  People say that "ignorance is bliss" and I think I'm reaching a point in my life where I'm faced with the very real, very difficult decision of either remaining knowledgeable of current affairs or turning a blind eye to preserve my own mental stability.  It isn't an easy decision, but it isn't nearly as hard some tasks facing millions of humans around the globe each and every day. 

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