Several days ago, my email crashed. With the help of Juno’s technical people, my daughter, who is more tech savvy than I, was able to bring back the application’s framework, but all data, including folders, permanently vanished. I had been having problems with the email but had attributed them to the fact that I had an ancient computer that ran an ancient browser. The Juno technical people informed us that the data had been lost because Juno was not compatible with Windows 10 on my new computer. I have been grieving the loss of my data, and the loss of working on a system with which I am familiar, as a new email account will need to be established and learned.
Although the situation is unfortunate, there are still choices I have about how to respond. I have tried several. One is anger at the application provider, and anger at myself for being too dependent on Juno and at being unable to fix it or get it fixed. Another is self-pity – why me?? A third is avoidance; maybe if I don’t get back on email and just ignore it, the situation will go away. None of these helped. Still another is acknowledging my own resistance to learning new applications, especially as these are always changing. Some people, however, might be happy at the chance to learn a new program, and might enjoy working with the technology. That is also a choice. A contrasting choice might be grim acceptance and soldiering on. An extreme choice might be to opt to eschew email completely. For me, I think, the prompt to examine myself and my resistance to continually changing and more complex technology is of importance, as well as the apparent message that it is time to move on, in this aspect at least.
The point is that in any given situation, there are choices of how to respond, and those choices influence the outcome of the situation. How we respond to a situation is more important than the situation itself. Our responses act to create a situation more to our liking, modify the situation, or hold the situation in place – status quo. For example, I could simply be angry, call and shout at the Juno people, and demand my email be completely fixed. All that would do is keep me upset and reinforce the situation that I don’t have my data on my email. I could refuse to go on email. That avoidance would ensure that I no longer had email access. The choice that makes most sense is to first learn a new account, and then transfer the activity (in this case, address book and hopefully the ability to have incoming Juno email forwarded to the new account). It is a slower process, but more productive. It also gives me a good lesson in my own resistance to warranted change.
Our country has some deep situations before us. These are situations that will inform the way our country develops and in what kind of world we will be living in. As with small, personal situations, these large communal situations come with choices of response. Two of these situations are the removal of their children from people seeking asylum in the United States, legally crossing through the asylum process or not, following which the children are detained in facilities of varying quality and frequently moved from one facility to another. Parents have been deported without their children. I would personally use stronger words for this situation; kidnapping and trafficking seem appropriate. The other progression is broader; slowly and steadily we are seeing the strength of Congress weaken and barriers to one-man rulership come down. This might be through media mergers, executive orders upheld, gerrymandering approved, repeated untruths or half-truths being repeated until believed, or, what may or may not be more trivial, the apparent admiration of our President for two dictators, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, over the world’s other heads of government.
The responses we make to these situations make a difference. Popular currently are petition signing and protesting in the streets. Whereas these responses are excellent for raising attention, they do not go far enough. They do little for making actual concrete change. There is also the issue of voting. As we still, on the surface at least, live in a democracy, taking the time and making the effort to go to the polls and cast a vote is a stronger response. If many people vote in the same way, it can make a difference. Or, at least, it would be a litmus test of democracy. Rioting in the streets would be more likely to inspire martial law and deeper personal surveillance of individuals. If voting doesn’t work, then what? We will have to come up with other responses, creatively, together. We will need to learn to be truly community.
Our responses matter, whether small and personal or collective and global. Let us pause long enough to reflect on them, to put knee-jerk responses on hold until we have had time to accomplish that examination. Let us understand that we do indeed have choices and select those responses which are most likely to bring most benefit to ourselves and others. We need that, especially in uncertain times. Our world needs us, too.