I woke up this morning and discovered there were people being unfairly treated, people I had noticed before but never really thought about. Now that I have awakened to their plight, maybe I can lend my voice and vote to help them gain more fair treatment.
I woke up this afternoon from a nap and suddenly realized that the unpleasant smell I was breathing came from a landfill down the road. Then my neighbor sent me an email that awakened me further to how hazardous it is to have a landfill in my back yard. She alerted me to composting organic materials instead of throwing them in my trashcan so that I am not contributing as much to my “backyard” problem.
I woke up after falling asleep in my favorite chair this evening, only to notice in the newspaper on my lap the headlines I had ignored. They were about climate change and how the car I drive, the heat source I use, and even the sources of protein I consume actually make climate change worse or help slow it down. I’m just one little person but it woke me up to the impact I could be having — for good or for ill.
Then I was awake and felt more alert and energized. I wanted to know more and do more. Suddenly there were all these publications and articles at my fingertips that revealed stories previously seldom told, like about slavery in America. I started reading and was shocked that my awareness had been so shallow. I could see as I never saw before the long troubling shadow of what preceding generations did in the course of slavery, some that were even in my family tree, and how it still impacts society today. Now being awake is more difficult, but at the same time I feel stronger and somehow more empowered than I did when I was my sleepy old self.
Looking back it strikes me as odd that I wanted to be asleep all the time. Maybe it helped me not to have bad dreams or just kept me from feelings I didn’t want to feel. Once you wake up to the dark side of something you always thought was only good, then you have to decide if you are going to change. There is the real discomfort! Going back to sleep can solve the problem. If I am asleep to something I could actually change, then I don’t have to worry about what I might lose if I changed. Staying sleepy, if not asleep, protects me from what I do not want to know, and that means I do not have to do anything differently and isn’t that just a lot better?
Think of all the ways we can stay sleepy: get news from only one perspective, do not read what we don’t want to know and even ban anything from being read that might disrupt our sleep, keep to ourselves and those who think like us, wear our politics on our hats and shirts so everyone knows we are not going to entertain any new thoughts, and post yard signs and ominous flags to declare that ours is a safe place to remain asleep. Yay, all good ideas for staying sleepy.
Now I see why “woke” has such a bad reputation. Good night.
Tim Long, Just Up the Hill from Lock 15 says
I am recently taken with an observation of a tech cynic, that goes something like this (and I’ll tie that back to your solid and cutting observation here in a sec…):
“Ultimately what Mammon wants is to turn a world made for and stewarded by persons into a world made of and reduced to things. God wishes to put all things into the service of persons… and to bring forth the flourishing of creation through the flourishing of persons.
Mammon wants to put all persons into the service of things and ultimately to bring about the exploitation of all creation.”
Your “Waking up to the dark side of something you always thought was good” is now, for me, deeply disquieting, and has led me to detaching from this notion that I grew up worshiping: The Inevitability of Progress Solving Everything, which is a convenient philosophy for Not Taking Responsibility. For me, waking up to the dark side is become preferable to our consumerist present, in which we are all continuously beckoned by robots, in which:
We can rouse from our snooze, respond to the ubiquitous glowing screen always at hand, and with a tap of a finger, have our physical desire(s) fulfilled so we can return to the world as projected on the big screen on the wall. And just stay sleepy. We’ll soon be “back to normal”.
I think, instead, I’ll just be Woke, and irritating, and call it all sacrilege. And put the little screen in a drawer. And slow the Heck Down.
Thanks, Fr. Cam. Continued sustenance for this retro-grouch.
Cam Miller says
Greetings, Tim. Thanks for commenting. I think there is a balance to seek as well, so as not to become unable to use and critique present technology. I watched my father refuse to engage technology to, in my opinion, his detriment. At the same time, my mother-in-law has worked to be able to use it to communicate with her children. Something between an unselfconscious consumer of technology and a Luddite. That’s my thought anyway.
aworkumAndrew workum says
What bothers me more than being asleep and waking up to these issues is when I’m awake and I see them or read about them and I shake my head in disbelief, especially when it’s another shooting or another warning about climate or another country like the Sudan or another piece of legislation that just irritates the s…t out of me and then I sigh and get another cup of coffee or look up the baseball scores. That’s what bothers me. And I really really don’t want to be told to stay in the present. And love the things that are so precious to me. Because I do and the list keeps coming.
Cam Miller says
Okay, what bothers you resonates with me too. But no one said being woke was pleasant and without discomfort. Use it to do something, to find small ways to spread the love you feel for those precious to you, to a few more. I know you already have.