What Can You Do?

I was reading today that the Loire in France is drying up in places and that three nuclear power plants rely on its water for cooling. Sometimes, I think that my urges to play Fallout: New Vegas come not from a deep desire to escape my step-brother’s yellow bell pepper bolognese dinners, but from divine intervention to teach me how to prepare mutant gecko steaks.

As much as we crave individual liberty and the ideals of a libertarian society, human civilisation as we know it is wholly collectivist. Look no further than the gas shortages and the grain blackmail to see that whether we like it or not, humanity relies on each other to survive. So then, I ask, what can the individual do to put not just their mind at ease but also actively impact the world around them?

“Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.” – Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight (2008)

Be Batman? Yes but also no.

Latex nipples and gruff voices aside, that quote from The Dark Knight can easily be applied directly to you. Change the word “Batman” to “human” and there you have it. The purpose of individual liberty is laid bare: the choice to make the right choice. Whether that means grinning and baring yellow bell peppers in bolognese or standing on a picket line as the person you voted into office slanders you to millions.

It’s ironic that Christopher Nolan’s trilogy ended up being as strange love letters to authoritarianism and thinly-veiled fascist ideologues.

I suppose in these last few months where the world has seemed to time travel backwards to the Cold War, with nuclear panic and purging of women’s rights, keeping your head seems to be the only real victory worth living for. We may be broke, depressed and suffering through one modern crisis after the next yet we are unbroken still; no matter how hard edgy, rage-fueled cokeheads in office and podcast booths try to destroy all that they do not understand or care about.

“‘No thief can steal your will.’ – So Epictetus.” – Meditations, 11.36

In a time where history tells us we’ve never had it so easy yet the victories of the individual remain the same as they did millennia ago.

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.” – Meditations, 7.69