We’re drinking from a news firehose. Every single day there is some new outrage. It’s exhausting. I’ve noticed, anecdotally, that people are quick to despair, and slow to have faith in systems. Here are a few things to remember in dealing with uncertainty, which give me perspective in the world.
Not Everything Needs to Happen Now
In fact, it can’t. Time is the ultimate solvent, and without some negative developments to show us how we’re wrong, how we’re misguided, we have no benchmark against which to measure improvement. We need to be slow. Our country and world has been so wrong so many times, that when we do improve and change, we can take pride in advancement. But advancement takes time, and setbacks, and roadblocks, and even tragedy. That is not failure—it is life, and it’s okay that we’re imperfect as long as we are working toward improvement.
We Have Systems in Place
The largest branch of government by presiding officials is the Court system. Good old Article III of the U.S. Constitution—our Supreme Court and its “inferior” courts. There are over 750 federal judges nationwide across 94 district courts, 13 circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. (Contrast that with Congress, which has 535 voting members: 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, and the executive branch, where there is an elected President and Vice-President, and 15 cabinet-level officials.) Each of those courts hear important cases almost daily, and make decisions on those cases that shape and affect life in our country. That process is slow, methodical, and most often, politically uncontroversial. This is the pressure relief valve, and it is working—daily. I’ll discuss the legitimacy of these systems in a later post.
Credible Media is Faithfully Serving its Purpose
For every one news source skewing facts and making outrageous, politically-charged claims, there are 99 that are methodically checking and re-checking facts, faithfully writing and reporting those facts, and serving their intended purpose in our system—carefully watching the claims of government and reporting on its shortcomings. It can be grueling work, and requires discipline when wading through the various interests clamoring for an outcome. Most news sources have integrity, and are doing the hard work of jockeying for perspective to find the truth.
Our System is Designed to Reward the Best Ideas
Political points and wins are temporary; but good ideas have staying power. This even applies to Supreme Court Justices. A Supreme Court Justice is there until death or retirement, whichever is first, but during that time they still have to sway justices to adopt their view or else risk losing credibility and being relegated to the fringe of the system. That’s an extreme example of the best ideas winning over time. But there are millions of people working every day on implementing ideas that work better, more efficiently, and more reliably. You can usually spot a good idea in action.
Action is the Best Medicine
Do you want to feel better about the world? Act. Vote, demonstrate, make contact with elected officials, file lawsuits to involve the courts when necessary, and serve on public and private boards and bodies. Be an agent of change, instead of an angry outsider. If you or your ideas lose, at least you can tell yourself in the end that you exercised all of your rights trying to be heard.