Where I take a headline from “The Onion” and write an objectively finer article
“World Leaders Vow Regular People Just Trying To Live Their Lives Will Bear The Consequences” — The Onion, 24/02/22.
In defence of Ukrainian Twitter, memes are a perfectly valid coping mechanism. During history in high school, I used to always wonder why people never did anything before majorly devastating events. Then I realised that I get paid a whole lot of nothing to stress out about a whole lot of life-altering stuff. Part of me gets why Putin feels the need to invade Ukraine because it’s a whole lot of NATO involved bureaucratic power play. But at the same time, I don’t even tell hospitality staff when they get my food order wrong. As a relatively normal twenty-something year old with a fun-sized sprinkling of trauma, I would much rather sit and drink the most disgusting coffee in my life than disturb a minimum-wage worker. So, you can probably tell that I will not be invading a neighbouring country anytime soon.
That’s the kinda fucked up thing about governments. Ultimately, they’re hierarchical and as much as Politics 109 students want to argue Rousseau’s common good—world leaders will never experience the consequences of their actions as directly as the people they govern. I know Jacinda probably doesn’t shop at Kmart, but I’m just saying if she did, ma’am would not have had to line up for 45 minutes or wait two months for her online order to be delivered.
The pandemic is that classic action movie trope where the main character looks at the camera and asks, “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Only Putin has become some hairless version of Lord Farquaad, and everything is really expensive (sidenote: $2.80/L for petrol??????). Also, no one has dental insurance yet. Even though Aotearoa is comparatively progressive in offering equal rights and opportunities, we are not immune to the capitalist guilt-tripping of individuals. Whether it comes to environmentalism or literal warfare, there’s some kind of messed up thinking that blames the people as opposed to the world leaders in charge. Sure, buying a bamboo toothbrush or reusable metal straw will lower your individual carbon impact and save some poor sea turtle from living a life on a ventilator, but ultimately you are only responsible for a teeny-weeny fraction of the blame.
Similarly, you are not responsible for the war in Ukraine even if you went to Europe that one time and made that one communist Russia joke to fit in with the Reddit guys in high school. The rise of technology and social media makes it so easy to be up-to-date, but sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with all the available information. It’s important to differentiate between the institute and the individual. Unless you’re Vladimir Putin himself, the nuclear arming of Russian missiles is hardly your fault. And if you are Vladimir Putin, idk bro. There’s got to be better things you can do than reading the rambling thoughts of some Auckland University magazine.
There’s a lot happening in the world right now. Yes, you’re the main character of your own life. But also, you’re not responsible for everyone else’s. Separate the idea of you as an individual from any and every organisation or group you belong to and make sure to keep yourself as your number one priority. Mental self-care and sticking it to the man (or woman) has never been this sexy.
Donkey’s conclusion: Take a nap bestie, you deserve it.