This past Sunday, it was reported in the New York Times Style section that we are An Anxious Nation.* We sure are: caught between sound bites on Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other input mechanism we happen to be attached to…reading and looking at everything and nothing.
I find it interesting that we are not doing more to organize ourselves and assuage our collective anxiety. The interventions of listening to the comedians , screaming on Facebook and Twitter, and letting off a few F…bombs with each new update from POTUS, are not going to make a change that matters.
After all, the purpose of anxiety is to pose us for action, not for us to sit in a soup of cortisol and adrenaline waiting for the next piece of information to pump more cortisol and adrenaline into an overloaded system.**
So, why don’t we get off our cell phones and actually do something? Why indeed? Ironically, a few months ago, I was discussing the concept of the zeitgest with my husband and I decided we needed to visit the definition. It is easily explained by Merriam Webster: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.
I became curious and typed in this question: What is the zeitgest of the 21st century? I read the answer that popped up on Philosophy News: Misanthropy: We view ourselves as incapable of overcoming challenges. I thought, of course this is the zeitgest of our times: how many times have I brought up something in conversation only to hear, “well there is nothing you can do about it (or, said it myself).”
I took a look at the Philosophy News *** site recently and realized that the quote above was linked to a book review in 2015. Here are two quotes:
Matthias Heitmann takes on the zeitgeist in his new book Zeitgeisterjagd…Heitmann does not see the political zeitgeist in terms of a struggle between left and right. Party politics are meaningless in a world that rejects change and makes the state the auditor of human agency. For Heitmann, the zeitgeist is a consensus, a worldview that rejects freedom in favour of security – with deleterious effects.
In Zeitgeisterjagd, Heitmann invites the reader to take risks, if not in deed, at least in thought. He asks us to see today’s worldview not as a logical consequence of the horrors of twentieth-century history, but as the collective mind of our times. And, as such, Heitmann argues that we can change our collective mind, if we put our minds to it.
I guess if JFK were here, he might say, “Ask not what you can tweet about today, but rather what you can do.”
Tonight, in ITHACA, NY, there is a meeting re: the expansion of Cargill’s salt mine under Cayuga Lake, an expansion planned without an Environmental Impact Statement. This is a meeting in which a group of concerned citizens, CLEAN, is organizing to educate the public. This is action that can lead to change.
After the information is presented, those of us who attend, can then take steps to impact a situation, seemingly out of our control, which could have a detrimental impact on our community and environment .