Choose your battles

choose your battles comic

Choose your battles. You can’t solve all the problems at once.

Isn’t it tempting to correct someone who has wrong factual information on the Internet? There is just a ton of alternative facts that don’t fit in with accepted facts. It is easy to think that once we point out the flaws in their argument, they will change their mind and others will be impressed. It just doesn’t work that way.

People believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts. While providing some factual information might make those who are on the fence change sides, it ultimately doesn’t matter. People seem determined to make choices that are against their and others’ self-interest. It is quite baffling.

In the past, I saw others choose things because of what they wanted to believe emotionally. They wanted to see themselves as the victim and the “other” as the villain. Every experience was filtered through that lens. I have learned that this is not a helpful point of view. It is not always clear who is the villain and who is the victim in a situation.

Ok, I can hear you now what about person X? It is true that that person is doing unhelpful things and making many people suffer. It is also probably true that there is a counter-reaction that is not always easy to see that is working to improve the situation that leads to this person becoming popular. Nothing happens in a vacuum. When something happens to help someone, someone else is hurt and eventually those hurt people rise up and take revenge. You can’t avoid facing people’s pain.

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The more we try to avoid facing our own pain and that of others, the more we suffer as a society. We have tried to soothe ourselves with things and found out they don’t work. The richest people are the most unhappy. What further evidence do we need that more things can’t make us happy and in fact make us less happy?

In life, we have to be strategic about what we focus on and what we can improve. The pen might be mightier than the sword but starving people need both the pen and a helping hand.