February 2013, London
Do you ever wake up at night thinking of the families of those workers who die at their workplace because one of the world’s largest multinationals couldn’t make the decision on time to replace a faulty piece of equipment? Of children getting sick from working too much in the fumes of a factory? Of millions of pensioners affected when an energy giant goes bust because of its own fraudulent accounting schemes and takes with it their life savings? Of holiday makers who lose their lives in train crashes and ship wrecks caused by negligence and systematic failure on the part of large organisations to do what is right, instead of what is profitable?
If so – what do you do, how do you reconcile with those troubling thoughts? Do you try to relegate them to some corner of your mind, possibly close to natural disaster or fatal diseases? Do you see them as another type of catastrophe, like a tsunami, or an earthquake? Or like a plague? Perhaps like leukaemia?
And does it work? Or are you still awake? Does it still bother you, in a different way? Do such events still make you sick inside, more so than natural disasters do? Can you not blame them on the gods, or fate? Do they seem radically different somehow, and for that reason utterly unbearable?
And if so, what do you do? How do you manage to get back to sleep? You must find a way, if not to accept them (as you do with natural disasters), at least to reconcile yourself with the thought that such events do occur, even when they don’t have to (because they are preventable).
So how do you manage (or at least try) to reach that level of reconciliation? Do you talk to somebody about such events and what causes them? Do you read or write about them? Do you go to events that address them? Do you support organisations trying to tackle their causes?
None of this is “the” right answer. All of them are. No matter what you do – as long as you do something, even if it’s just thinking or reading about such unbearable because preventable disasters, it helps.
Writing this, now, is one of my ways of trying to deal with the unbearable.