This is likely to turn out to be one of the worse written blog posts. I am writing it while having experienced many highs and lows in the last couple of days, and I have yet to process them fully. Being progressive or optimistic today is exhausting. But such is life.
There’s a gentleman who started out as a colleague I was always nervous to be around in 2016 but who now I consider one of my better friends – I don’t see him often, but when I do, I feel like we have been together for weeks, having a tremendous cerebral time. David Sasaki, started writing again, in part (I think) because I needled him until he did. He is a powerful mind. Anyway, he writes this weekly newsletter on SubStack (Subscribe!) that I greatly enjoy. Last week he called to attention Barack Obama’s interview with Hasan Minhaj, which I had been intending to watch but somehow hadn’t found the time.
David’s views on the interview resonate much with my own. It’s very hard to be optimistic nowadays for me because – well, the world is a hard place to be optimistic. There’s climate change to start with. Have you seen that never-ending hellfire in Canada that has consumed millions of acres now? They say, “it’s too vast or hot to put out now.” North America, Asia and Europe are set to experience the hottest summer in history, in some cases breaking new records. And in Kenya, President Ruto has okayed logging to critical repercussions.
As the world becomes more nationalist and tribal, authoritarianism comes back in vogue after what seems like a momentary renaissance of freedom, progress, meaningfulness and economic up-step, it is increasingly hard to see the so-called silver lining. Watching the news now makes one want to curl up in bed and hibernate until the following season.
We are politically exhausted
This is a politically exhausting time worldwide, especially when you think that Trump could credibly run for the presidency in America. In Kenya, everyone is tired. The country is massively polarised with the pro-government supporters being ever-more sycophantic and the anti-government protestors gaining more foothold across the country. One listens to the president and one hopes that we could have a modicum of suave in our politics. Then one listens to Riggy G, our deputy president and there are doomsday concerns.
Kenyans are now working two day weeks as the anti-government protests “Maandamano” in Kiswahili take on the ominous colours of 2007-2008. “Kaende kaende,” I heard a young man say – to mean let the chips fall where they may. He was on social media saying that he would continue to protest even if he is fatally shot in the process. On careful review, I find that he was a mere tot in 2008. He doesn’t remember and so he cannot be as afraid as I am. The young man was so caught up in the moment, that he had not thought about the consequencies – or he had and took the view that freedom shall be acquired no matter the cost.
Goodbye, Reddington; Damn you NBC
I have avidly watched every episode of the TV Series, The Blacklist, starring James Spader. And NBC ended the show after ten seasons, killing Reddington in the most ignominious way. Yes, we knew they were ending it. That was, however, the most demoralising end. Then again, final ends, tend to feel this way.
In one of his responses to Minhaj, Obama suggested that if one takes a long enough view of the world (timewise), one would know that our current circumstances may not be the worst that has been experienced. But then I felt, as I think did Hasan and David that he was being “factually accurate and emotionally dishonest.” Because these times just call for screaming. Especially when your favourite TV character is unceremoniously offed.
“Ask your parents whether this is the worst they have seen.”Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States and cousin to all Kenyans 😂
Of course, as 72-year-old author David Brin says on Quora, “Statistically, except for climate change and hot spots of repression and war — and the rising Putin-centered coalition against the West — most trends are very positive, worldwide.” There are opportunities for us to focus on what is working. People are living longer and healthier. Technology is enabling more information flow that helps counter oppression and authoritarianism.
And yet some are doing their lives’ work in meaningful, impactful and sustainable ways.