I’m unable to recall a time when I’ve been so intensely and intuitively called to write words on a subject, while at the same time feeling deeply incapable of cogently expressing my thoughts on it. I feel confused.
When those horrific, gut wrenching, mass killings occur that we nowadays label as terrorism, I am initially lost as how to respond without letting them control my thinking, and thus my life. I am initially drawn to view every minute of video I can on each incident, I want to listen to the endless news reports, even though most are simply repeating what I heard in the last report. Meanwhile, I’m simultaneously admonishing the media for filling the airways with “too much of this.”
I seem to have an insatiable “need to know” about that which appalls me, while at the same time, wanting to avoid hearing about it.
I want to “do something” to help the victims, while feeling absolutely powerless to do so. I want to “do something” to prevent the next one, again feeling absolutely powerless to do so. I want to “get back” at the perpetrator(s), but really not. That just perpetuates this mess. I am moved to talk about it with another, while not wanting it to rule my life, even though at those moments, it does in fact rule my life.
Then, as time passes, I’m left wondering if there is something I should be doing to prevent the next one. Am I part of the problem? Should I be doing more for the disadvantaged of the world? Should I be doing more to promote religious tolerance? Should I be doing more to promote increased aid to those with mental health issues? And, would any of that make a difference?
Perhaps I need to understand that I must forever live in the question; that there exists no definitive answer to living with terrorism. I so badly want an answer. I so want to never again see such seemingly preventable carnage. I don’t ever want to hear about anyone, much less children, being senselessly slaughtered, ever again. I’ve held these thoughts after each incident, and yet they go on.
What should I tell my grandchildren about the victims, the perpetrators, the helpers? Should I even talk about it with them? How should I continue to live my life in such a world? As I have so often asked before, “What is mine to do?”
Quoting from a portion of a column by Rev. Jesse Jennings on the same subject:
“I’ll say my initial response is shock, horror, outrage and grief. I feel these until I’m done, while gathering information on what happened and how I might help. If it’s next door, I can do more immediate practical good, than if it’s a continent away. Then, I’ve built the habit of moving into a calmer and prayerful place for myself. It’s not usually the first thought that frames a spiritual response to shock, but the next thought.
Everyone reels at the impact of bad news, but then we diverge on where we take it in consciousness. Some may move into blame and vengeance. Others veer toward hopelessness. It’s not my place to judge how others process. I just know, when I used to go to those dark catacombs of the mind before I learned to do otherwise, my life didn’t work very well, nor was I contributing anything helpful to the world’s life.”
Perhaps what is mine to do is find a way to continue to be helpful to the world’s life; find more ways to serve, or increase my current service to others.
As I have taught so many times in the past, for myself and others; the key for me is to place my focus and attention on what I want for the world, not what I don’t want. While not denying the awful events that occur, I don’t need to make them the centerpiece of my life.
My options are endless, they range from simply nodding hello’s to more people who cross my path, to expanding my spiritual life; more prayer and calming meditation; listening to others; and supporting others who are experiencing hardship. While many more options exist, these are a few that immediately came to mind.
What comes to mind for you in order to be more helpful to the world’s life? What is yours to do?
Yes, I am left to live in the question when it comes to the horrific things we do to each other. But the question does not need to rule my existence. I always have options. I’ll choose those that find a way to make even a small part of the world better. That’s what is mine to do.