A democracy is only as strong as its populace is informed, and the United States’ status as a democracy is increasingly shaky.
Children detained at the border are separated from their parents and kept in cramped cages. Mass shootings have become so normalized in the US that they happen more than twice a month, and 2019 is well above that number. Lawmakers are using racist rhetoric to attack political opponents and making unhinged, grandiose statements while echoing racist talking points.
All of this can lead to something called compassion fatigue, where the constant onslaught of horrific stimulus leaves people numb. And while that is a perfectly natural reaction to all the horror surrounding us, we cannot afford to simply ignore it.
Years ago something like the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival would have been absolutely horrifying, but now its cycled out, forgotten. After the initial shock, the pain and outrage is quickly replaced with apathy.
If we let these things become normal and tolerated, they will never go away. We’ve already normalized mass shootings, they have ceased to be shocking or surprising, they are just an accepted part of the political landscape. It’s horrible to think about, but we are just used to them at this point.
The world is in a state of political turmoil. Fascist sentiment is on the rise worldwide, with leaders like Brasil’s Jair Bolsonaro and The Philippines Rodrigo Duterte destroying the environment and eroding their people’s rights respectively. There are allegations that the Indian military has used systemic torture to repress the Kashmiri population.
As exhausting and triggering as it is, we cannot ignore this, we cannot unplug from politics despite how hard it is to keep watching. When things are this bad, this fundamentally broken, we need to redouble our efforts to stay informed and aware.
We need to fight the instinct to pull away completely, despite how comfortable distance from this suffering can feel. Some space can be necessary for mental health, but once recharged we need to keep informing ourselves.
Things will only get worse if we ignore them, if politics isn’t something that you know too much about, this is the time to learn.