Saturday, July 14, 2007


I was very troubled by something over Shabbos.

I was recently placed in a social situation with many people whom I have not seen for a long time. There, I was very disturbed by something, but I could not put my finger on what. In fact, I chastised myself for suspecting anything was wrong. Surely I am not so cruel a person that I am unhappy when other people seem pleased and contented? Surely I don't want other people to be unhappy with something simply because I am? Surely I do not want people to suffer?

No! I realized this Shabbos. I know what bothered me so much. It was the dead, dull look in people's eyes. People were resigned. Resigned to their lot, to their fate. They seemed to harbor a belief, "This is the way the world works. We're stuck with it; we have to deal with it. We have no other choice."

People who had once flamed with passion and with the desire to change things had suddenly been transformed. They were silent, quiet, lying to themselves in order to convince themselves that everything's okay.

These people had not forgiven whatever had been done to them; they had merely forgotten it. Or told themselves they had.

And these are not older people who have to deal with the responsibilities of life, who have been beaten down by many years and disappointments. These are not people who have lost hopes or broken dreams or have cause to be completely disillusioned. These are people my age, perhaps a few years older.

So why are they resigned to the way everything is? What happened to the words they spoke, those flaming words and burning eyes and the way they looked and swore they would try to do something, anything, to change the way things are?

This makes me so upset. It's one of the worst things that could happen to a person. To exist but not to live, to feel like one has no ability to impact anything, that one is caught but cannot break free...Resignation is worse than apathy. Apathy is when one does not care. But resignation is when one does care, and has tried, and has been broken. And now they are simply resigned to their lot.

I know what all of you tell me. I know that so many of you think of me as nothing but a naive, foolish, idealistic little girl, whose thoughts will amount to so much dust and ash. I have heard over and over again that nothing I ever do will matter, that it is hopeless, that I might as well stop trying. That I am too small and too inadequate to effect any kind of change.

You have told me that this is the way the world works and I should accept it, suck it up and deal with it.

To do that, for me, would be a kind of death. It would take away all purpose. It would mean there is no point to any kind of existence. It would mean there is no use in trying. To be resigned is not to live. To be resigned at my age is a horror. I cannot understand what has happened here. I cannot understand how someone who is only eighteen can go in for some kind of false contentment, something which she herself knows is a lie! and truly believes this is her only choice.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps this is the way things are.

But in the words of the immortal Edna St. Vincent Millay, "I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."


Ezzie said...

Not everything is lived in extremes. There is a large gap between youthful idealism and resignation.

(Yeah, 2:49am, and my eyes hurt. :P )

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with ezzie. I know for me personally, I had a certain youthful idealism in HS, and while I may no longer feel the same way, I certainly have not resigned.

Sarah Likes Green said...

As well as what the other commenters have said, it does depend on the situation.

(This post makes me think of a particular situation that I had to deal with. It was a long, stressful process and the end result is not what I wanted. However to pursue it further would have been costly emotionally and financially. So I have had to resign myself to the outcome that occurred because I really have no choice. And yeah, as you say, it sucks to feel that way.)

Anonymous said...

My two cents: I have found that when you want to be effective (which is the key here in all areas of life) or to effect change you have to be receivable to your audience who will likely (statistically) be less passionate and idealistic than you. You have to embrace the middle road not just because it is there and is best for you, but because others will perceive you better and be more open to your ideas. I am really talking about myself, not Mussaring you. I have always had trouble with the middle road. And I am easily frustrated by the passivity of others. I meet up with a lot more passive people than resigned ones. "Why does everything immediately become a 'cause' with you? Why do you morph into Superman at every chance?" My husband asks. I see myself more as "The Greatest American Hero," not having asked for this and such, not for the glory, not the bold mover and shaker, but the quiet instigator. I don't know if the Greatest American Hero was an instigator or just the reluctant hero, but whatever. I'll go catch some on You Tube. Middle road is good.

Anonymous said...

...and this is when we go off and prove everyone wrong!

Sometimes, we can achieve the impossible.

CJ Srullowitz said...

To the extent that what you saw, lulei demistafina, reflected the reality, I would suggest that perhaps the world is sometimes too much to keep up with, let alone change. With all of the devices - internet, iphones, 24-hour news channels - hurling hurtful information at you at all times, it's hard to maintaing footing let alone push back.

I don't, lulei demistafina, believe this to be the reality (though I feel it sometimes); I'm just saying I can see how it would beat the light out of some people's flame.

Scraps said...

Resignation is a sad, sad state. It hurts me to see it in others, and even more to see it lurking in my own heart...

Anonymous said...

You’re really carving out a nice niche for yourself as the most pretentious blogger on the internet. You view other people in such a condescending and patronizing manner.

Maybe these people are also in desperate need of your rescuing the same way your helpless highschool classmates were.

Chana said...

I'm a teenager! I'm entitled to be an idiot!


Last anonymous, in part I agree with you. But happily, I am learning how to be better.

Throw some more tomatoes at me! That'll help! Sticky tomato-juice is always good (do you get the reference? No? I'll help. Quasimodo on the pillory. Although we have no Esmeralda with water-jugs...which brings a thought, compare Esmeralda and Rebecca tonight. Interesting idea, that.)

Huzzah for being a pretentious, condescending brat!

(And now I seem quite mad. Ah well.)

M.R. said...

Does it bother you when people mellow, as well? Do you, in fact, differentiate between mellowing and resigning?