This I Believe

shrimant - chicago, Illinois
Entered on January 15, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: hope

I believe that too much information can crush hope.

As an Indo-American child growing up in Nashville, TN I must have had some subconscious feeling of otherness, some feeling of being a redneck Indian if you will, that made me empathize with the poor, minorities, and basically anyone that was underdog. I remember hearing about Mahatma Gandhi and his liberation of my ancestors from British rule and thinking to myself, “It’s so easy to change the world for better, so effortless to give those less fortunate a chance!” I would travel to India with the lens of a naïve tourist and think that a rupee given here or there to a beggar was improving a life. I would read newspapers about the Mideast conflict, and I would shake my head and say, “If they would only trade this land for that land and do x and y, it would all be solved so quickly.”

But then I grew older and realized that the troubles of the world run deep. India slowly transformed itself from a place where good works could bring about real change to a place where corruption had become indistinguishable from daily life. I started to talk more to both my Jewish and Muslim friends and saw that conflicts are rooted as much in emotion and personal life as much as anything else. I began to believe that every problem in our world – poverty, racism, crime – was so complex in layers of sociology, history, and that all-powerful word “research ,” that I began to feel that what I did really made no difference to anyone. Why protest a war if only the powerful make the decisions? Why give to charity if the money is abused or only leads to dependence. Why do anything other than focus on your own life?

So, hearing all this, do you think I am an unhappy, cynical person, the supposed surly apathetic Gen Xer? No, I’m not. It’s true, you look for these neat answers to things to help you make sense of all that’s going on around you, to guide you in your actions. I kept looking, kept reading, kept talking, kept learning, but I still haven’t found the answers that I seek- if anything the world is more confusing than it was. But I guess I just decided at some point to let it all go, to let all that information seep in but never let it touch the part of you that loves the world and the people that live in it. It’s true, informing yourself can be a great tool to understanding; it can even change the way you live, but at some point you just have to say “I don’t know if what I’m doing is useful, or even right, but I’m trying God, I’m trying…”

I guess I believe that too much information can crush hope…but not forever.