Letter to the Editor: The Problem of Inertia

Here are some observations, a few questions, and many clarifications at the dawn of a time of great uncertainty.

There are many concerns plaguing the conscience of humanity in this day and age. There is much fear. There are few true leaders. We are much talk and little action. We are quick to judge and slow to learn. We voice our opinions while failing to listen closely enough to those who argue with us. Often it feels as if the only course of action is to disengage, to reach for a life of comfort and predictability, to learn to accept those events which haunt the vigilant as normal and expected. It feels as if we have the luxury to mute the call of collective responsibility.

What do we do with that feeling that this isn’t our fight, that our complacency is justified, that our involvement is not necessary? Where can we find ready inspiration to push forward? When do we complete the work of fostering better lives? When does “later” become “never”?

These are not questions about political involvement. These are not questions concerning moral imperative. These are questions about why we get up in the morning. In times when our path forward seems uncertain, we must return to why we wish to move forward in the first place; for we are not mistaken in our “why” – our values – nor do we feel that there is a shortage of room in our lives to contribute to the world around us. Rather, we are confused about how to go about implementing our values and, because of our hesitation, our values and our actions are knocked out of alignment by the distractions inherent in lives centered around entertainment and security. We have become bogged down by the inertia of the world which we have built up around ourselves.

This is not a condemnation. It is a call to action, for myself as much as for you – not to get involved, strive for excellence or rally against the enemy, but rather to live in such a way that makes progress towards the better lives which champion these causes more central to our everyday lives. We must live each day as if it were our last; we must choose always the good and the necessary over the comfortable and the expedient, and we must dedicate our lives to the pursuit of discovering and refining what we see to be both good and necessary. If we live in these ways, if we spring from our beds each day to live out our values with the conviction of an activist rising to march for justice, then we cannot help but get involved; we cannot help but strive for excellence; and our enemies cannot help but join us as friends.

All that remains is to better understand what moves us. Everything else will follow.

So listen, and learn, and love the people that disagree with you.

Zach Jaeger

Baileys Harbor, Wis.