…The City of Lights sits in darkness
…U.S. States turn their backs on refugees
…Beirut bombings go mostly unnoticed
…ISIS: Where media goes wrong
…A disturbing increase in Islamophobia
It is the danger of living in sound bites. It is the danger of sitting in front of my computer screen, scanning headlines and Facebook feeds. I allow these headlines to assault me, and I continue to scroll and read more.
I find myself reacting to the reactions more than to the events themselves. Perhaps because the reality of devastation and loss is too scary. Keeping busy judging others and their viewpoints keeps me at a safe distance. And I don’t think I’m the only one who has fallen into this trap this week. Social media has been rife with condemnation and judgment – and not just of the people who have committed acts of terrorism.
I’m wondering if we all were to take time to grieve, to be present with our feelings, if we wouldn’t then have a more constructive conversation.
By simply scrolling through opinion after opinion, listening to thirty second sound bytes, I inundate my mind and am aware only of a slight sense of unease. I am no longer present with my emotions. At this point, it is no longer even an intellectual exercise. It is a coping mechanism called numbing.
Screens are a commonly used numbing device – as are food and alcohol. Numbing is a great way to distance ourselves from our feelings, a great way to avoid vulnerability.
But at what cost? Well, a synonym for to numb is to deaden. That might give you some idea.
I don’t want to deaden my ability to feel. Because as much as it can be difficult to sit with pain, I would also be giving up my ability to feel joy and love. If I were not willing to experience the grief of losing Ama, I would not feel the joy and gratitude of having had her in my life. Without sorrow, we cannot know happiness. Without pain, we cannot know healing.
So, the next step for me is to turn off my screens and tune in to my heart. I can sit and be with my feelings of fear and disappointment, sadness and grief. I can light a candle for those who have died, for those who are homeless, for those who have lost loved ones to violence. I can let that candle kindle the light within me. And with this prayer, I can send more light out into the world:
May those who are hungry be fed,
May those who need shelter find a warm, dry place to lie down,
May those who feel afraid, find comfort and safety,
May those who feel overpowered by sadness, know they are not alone.
May we come together with compassion instead of fear,
With love in our hearts and help in our hands,
That all may know the embrace of peace.