Saturday, November 14, 2015

When Will It Ever End?

Again and again it happens. We cannot seem to be able to escape death and destruction in the midst of violence. It is a vicious cycle that always follows the same pattern. We could plot it on a timeline and wait for each to happen.

It starts with that bloody, horrific event. It could be a riot in Ferguson, a mass shooting in a school, or a terrorist attack in Boston or Paris. Everyone does their part and reacts in sadness, anger, horror, and shock. It is our part because that is how we humans respond to such things. It is a cycle of trauma that has become so commonplace in our 24/7 news cycle, highly interconnected world, that we don't even realize we are being traumatized and re-traumatized every time it happens.

News coverage can then go over the top, reporting more than they know and often depending on sources that have little if any connection to the situation. The NPR program, On the Media has a meme they post everytime something happens to remind us that we don't know what's happening yet. They call it The Breaking News Consumer's Handbook. We saw some of this happen yesterday on Facebook, for example, when people were posting pictures supposedly from Paris last night when in reality they were from the Charlie Hedbo event in January.

It doesn't take long for the politicians to weigh in. They all have their talking points, right, left, or middle. It's all there. You know what they are going to say and how others will react. Just watch the pictures, leave the TV off and you will know the progression of the story.

By now the "Pray for [fill in the blank]" posts will be up. New graphics for each situation or the ubiquitous candle(s) will have the word "Pray" superimposed. A quick check showed that about 15% of my "Friends" had changed their profile picture for the Paris situation.

Someone will come up with a unique graphic like the Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol last night. All these will go viral. They are sincere; I participate in this as well. It is important to be reminded that there is something possible for us to be involved in at that very moment. As we are praying for Paris or Beirut or wherever, we are also bringing ourselves into the presence of our God. We are seeking the peace we want Paris to have. We need the peace we are asking God to provide.

While that is happening the memes from the left- and right-wings begin to show up. Blaming becomes the word. That and revenge. Rhetoric will fly. Violence will be threatened or suggested by some. Others will try to defuse this with meaningless actions that only they will care about. (I kind of fit into that category. More later.)

Then we have a few days of "in-depth" reporting, comments, more information, interviews with victims families or eye-witnesses. The news cycle moves on.

Until the next time.

And I have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

How can I speak up? What difference can anything I say make? So I post a few things to challenge narrow thinking or attempts to demonize people. A few of my regulars respond. Some will agree; some will disagree. Those who disagree are friends who I respect and trust and we work hard at being respectful and appropriate. We will sometimes go into messaging so as not to overwhelm the posts. But we do not point fingers at each other and often just agree to disagree since we are reasonable people.

Is that enough? Is that what we can do? I have no idea.

 The cycle I have talked about above will continue. It will happen again somewhere, maybe even in my state or community. We will go through the same ups and downs. We need to find a way of approaching it with peacefulness.

I am reminded of the old saying

Think Globally
Act Locally
Maybe that means that what I am doing is a start, and at times, perhaps all I can do. It also means that I need to be sure I am in a peaceful place. I cannot engender peace around me  if my life is in hatred or anger or fear. Hatred, anger, and fear are what the extremists are trying to get us to feel. We will then shut down our thinking and fall into purely emotional responses. No one wins then- except the extremists.

It means something different to each of us. For me acting locally means that I need to find the peace within me- and then live it. That is why I will go to church tomorrow to envelop myself in my faith tradition and seek the peace that passes understanding. Then, and only then, can I move out to live it.

I pray that we can all find our source of peace and hope in these seemingly never ending cycles of violence and death.

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