Partly because I have been writing about really fun things like privilege, poverty, politics and having difficult conversations, today's post has been a real push. I am not, however, a fan of waiting for inspiration. So I am fighting my way through each word. That is probably the broader difficulty with talking about stuff we would rather not talk about. It is an energy sponge. I have a bit of an excuse in that I made the long haul flight from London to Joburg last night. I was planning on AB De Villiers rejuvenating my energy by plonking Indian cricket balls onto roof tops while I lay comatose on the couch. It wasn't to be.
I think we get a certain amount of energy a day to do our real thinking. We get a bit to do adminy kind of things which we can do on autopilot. Then it comes to the weekend and we probably have to do a bunch of personal admin before we can start thinking about recovery, and starting again. Brett asked about practical suggestions as to how to start listening when there is even a small chance that we are on the wrong side of an important argument. Before you get to doing some reading. Before you even get to finding a reason to like the person or people you are engaging with. You have to find some energy.
If we are working as hard as most of us are, there isn't much energy left over. I would argue that most of us are stretched too far. I don't like the word 'balance', because it implies a zero-sum game. It implies that you need to take time from work and other things. That the time you do give will get worse. I'm not convinced. I think if we treated work like Sport, we may have a better outcome. Match day. You have a set time to work. No distractions. Come in for 4 hours, do your thing, and get out of there. Boom. Work expands to fill the space allocated.
Whatever the changes we need to make, most of my friends simply don't have the capacity to think about big issues at the moment. I made it half way through the Stanford Philosophy article on 'Affirmative Action' and my head and heart were spinning. These issues need to be chewed. They need head space. Most of us are dedicating our time and energy to survival and family. It doesn't leave much desire available for tough conversation.
I think part of the problem we have with bigger social issues is we all only have capacity to pick a few. Normally our pet peeves. It takes a big person to pick the issue where the finger is firmly pointing at them.