Saturday, November 03, 2007

When Giving Up Is Not An Option But Giving Out Is A Real Danger Posted by olvlzl

“To write on social justice, one must have a certain degree of sensitivity, passion and empathy to even be motivated in the first place,” Kamen says. “But then if the person is too sensitive, of course, he or she can get bogged down by the darkness of their subject matter.”

Silja J.A. Talvi’s review of “Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind “ By Paula Kamen investigates something that is a serious problem for the left. How do we constantly deal with the depression and discouragement that comes as a natural result of our political position? Identification with the pain of other people is one of the primary motivations of people on the left, much more so than those on the right. Conservatives do feel for other people, those they are close to and those they share something with, but the concerns of conservatives stop much closer to home than those of leftists. Their policies and even assumptions of what is worth trying display that fact in every way. I’ve seen nothing in history or during my life that would lead me to conclude that this isn’t true and I’m not really interested in arguing it.

How should we deal with this fact, that the depression that can come with repeated discouragement is a constant danger for leftists? The essential work of making progress requires constantly dealing with witnessing, investigating and sometimes experiencing first hand horrible injustices and pain. Giving up is not an option, it’s necessary to find ways to keep on even as it takes a toll on us. I’ve tired meditation to some success, though I’m told it isn’t for the seriously depressed. While doing something politically active does, to some extent, help with depression, sometimes you have to do other things as well. Despite what abstract ideals might insist on, avoiding what has all the signs of being a hopeless cause is necessary to both preserve our mental health but also in producing real results that make life better.

How do you deal with this kind of depression?