I am sensitive. I know this about myself. I’ve done my best to insulate myself from the cruelties of life. I don’t watch television. I don’t read the news. When something terrible happens in the world, I don’t run out and consume all the footage, facts, and sound bites. I prefer to keep my brain, and my heart, free from all the suffering of the world.
Unfortunately, it’s just not possible for me to completely avoid current events, politics, and all the ways human beings hurt each other and the world around them.
Here’s the thing- even when I’m not out actively seeking the news, when I’m really trying to stay over here in my zen little lane- the damn news is everywhere.
I used to think that watching the news, reading up on current events, and so on made me a “well informed citizen”. What it actually made me was afraid. Afraid of terrorists, and anthrax, and nuclear weapons. Afraid of the swine flu, and Islam, and bombs people made in their shoes to take on airplanes.
I was afraid of lots of invisible enemies I didn’t even know I had.
Left unchecked, fear can become a powerful force in our lives. When we live in constant fear, we are not able to make choices that reflect our true nature, which is always love.
Fear is the antithesis of love– the two cannot exist in the same space. Fear literally silences the still small voice inside us, disconnecting us from our internal guidance. In that space we are in survival mode everyday- like sitting ducks just waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
If we allow fear to be our ruler for a long period of time, it will eventually turn into anger. The anger comes from frustration, feeling powerless, and the anxiety of always feeling unsafe in our environment.
This anger, eventually will turn to hate– and thanks to the media- there are plenty of readymade enemies for us to direct that hate toward.
This creates a cycle of being afraid because bad things are happening, then more bad things happen because people are afraid. It’s like a merry-go-round of fear, anger, hate, and unthinkable acts that create more fear.
Without actively seeking the news this week, I know that another black man has lost his life senselessly at the hands of white law enforcement. I know that there is social unrest and rioting in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know that people are hurt, and angry, and afraid.
I saw an article on social media today, that said watching the footage of racial violence is giving people Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People literally feel as if they are living in a war zone, right here in their own homes.
I’m a middle aged, white, woman. I have a professional job, I drive a little SUV, and even though I am covered in tattoos- the police never bother me. I didn’t have to teach my white son how to survive a routine traffic stop- it never occurs to me that the local police would harm my child. These luxuries are afforded me, not according to merit, but because of my pale complexion.
Even the presidential election this year has turned into a big fear circus. We have to vote for this one, because of that one gets elected it will ruin America– so, go to the polls, hold your nose, and select the steaming pile of horsesh#t that somehow seems slightly less terrible than the other. For what?
You’ll get your little sticker with the stars and stripes on it that says, “I voted”. But, will anything change? What, exactly are we voting for?
How can we stop the violence, the hatred, the ignorance– all the things that come from this perpetual fear?
I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I could just toss a great big handful of hippie dust up in the air and magically make everyone return to their natural state of love.
I wish we could replace anger and hate with acceptance and understanding. I wish every person in America could feel truly free. I wish fear would vanish from our world. I have to believe that this is possible. The alternative is just too sad for me to face.
In a world full of noise, where the loudest voice wins– I will shout love from the rooftops.
No matter how hard the media tries to make me fear my earthly neighbors, I will embrace them as divine, eternal souls sharing this human experience with me. This is the only way to stop the fear machine, and begin to live in freedom and peace with one another.
MLK said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Fifty years later, this has never been more true. We have to get off the fear machine, and learn to love one another.