As long as the world exists there will be cause for concern. There will always be people treating each other badly, leaders using extraordinarily poor judgment, and exasperating public sentiment. It is tempting to become mired in the infuriating or insipid. But it is not advisable. Most people, unless they fall into the sociopathic spectrum, care about the world around them. Some of us are more inclined to empathize with the natural world; some consider human rights their bailiwick. There are others who are more meta in their concerns and look at the world as a whole and think; OMG! Whether you choose from column A, B, C or make your own hodgepodge, it’s crucial to keep perspective.
There are people who dedicate their entire lives to affecting change. Their work, lifestyle and every waking moment are spent trying to eradicate something. Most of us however are not chaining ourselves to trees or sleeping outside of the Supreme Court. We do what we do; write checks, canvass voters, write elected officials, participate in protests, adopt strays; and hope it makes a tiny difference. We talk about what’s important to us in the hopes of raising consciousness (and with the fear that silence=complicity.) We teach our children about our politics and social values in the hope that they will be engaged and do good work. But just a small step beyond this lays the tricky territory. Thanks in no small part to our 24-hour news cycle & group think of social media, we can easily become mired.
We know this is more likely to happen during any type of disaster (“disaster” for our purposes is defined as anything that is named and given a news show graphic.) Rarely is there any “news” after a disaster, but the coverage churns on. When the last of the confetti has been swept, the media rolls out the “how to talk to your kids about (insert disaster moniker)” “Experts” tell us how to speak to children of every age (hint: make it age-appropriate.) Nobody ever seems to question how a child would know of this disaster. Unless the child is directly affected by it, why is anyone exposing them to the incident? We run the risk of having our child think of the world as a frightening unpredictable place. There’s no reason for them to know that just yet. Let them wait until they’re big and strong and feel less vulnerable.
Disasters aside, dismal things are always happening and as adults we must find our way. We must walk away from the chatter and toward meaningful conversation. We need to know our limits and put down the paper or remote. We need to decide how much is too much and find our balance of engagement. Life is more multidimensional than simply repairing the world. Life includes relationships, celebrations, and pleasure. It doesn’t help anyone or anything to compromise these gifts of life. What point is there in repairing a world in which there’s no joy?