Ever since the start of the pandemic, the world seems to be following some grim kind of trajectory. So much good could’ve come out of this—a carbon tax, new green economies, respect for science, a sense of being in the same boat at least—but nothing has. And the few world leaders who still uphold the idea of dignified statesmanship find themselves fighting an uphill battle against America, China, and Russia, the three bullies of today’s politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of good may still wait for us at the other end of whatever this is, but we’re going to have to work hard to get it.

Wherever you look, you can see cause for alarm. Pick a topic, any topic, and I’m sure we could spend hours just going through all the things about it that have gone wrong recently and are about to become worse. It’s enough for any sane person to go mad.

But these are the times we live in. And will be for some time. Complaining is hardly useful because if it were, they’d be teaching it in school.

What then? Where does this grand scheme of things leave place for an individual?

A few years back, I used to see writing as a worthwhile occupation. The world prospered in relative peace and quiet, and so pursuing something more than money, more than a career—a calling—seemed like the right thing to do. But now? I’m not so sure. All around me, lives are ruined by the pandemic, petty politics, or the failing economy. What’s worthwhile when the threads of culture that had bound us together begin to unravel?

I ask this out loud because I don’t know. I try to be a good writer, a good editor, a good friend, and a good husband, but nothing seems to be enough in the face of the problems we’re facing. What can one person do against a sweeping tide?

I put real effort into small acts of kindness. I watch how the world events unfold, looking for some lost thread of humanity, something I could cling on to, or extend to others so they’d have something to grab hold of.

But most of the time these days I am just lost.

And I have a sense I’m not the only one.

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