Timely Isn’t Always Relevant

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Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower.

  • Tao Te Ching, Chapter 38, Legge translation

Over at his blog, Serdar discusses the seeming constant need out there to keep track of what’s timely, relevant, and so on. There’s so much to keep track of, and people want us to have opinions on everything. We can’t, yet we’re somehow supposed to because everyone demands our time, demands opinion.

If you’re any kind of writer or artist, if you comment on culture and politics, you know what this feels like. I experience this myself.

There’s a sinister side to this as well, beyond the merely annoying. It keeps us distracted, it keeps us fighting, it keeps us arguing. If you’re a news junkie like myself, you know how exhausting it to watch the media clog with manufactured outrage or see important issues disappear under a wave of B.S.

Ultimately it’s up to us to decide on what’s relevant and what matters to us and bow out of where we can’t. There’s only so much attention to go around, and society has made itself into a spectacle enough as it is.

It’s also up to us to give people a break and understand their limits. They too have only so much time to spend or space to care. Much as we need our boundaries, they need theirs.

Maybe if we give each other enough space to focus on what matters, enough truly important issues will be paid attention to.

Steven Savage