Thursday 3 December 2015

I opt out

I used to pride myself of being reasonably knowledgeable regarding current events.  I enjoyed listening to radio 4 and would watch the news in the evening.  If something big was happening I might even watch a news channel for an hour or so to keep up-to-date with what was happening.

However in the past few weeks it has become apparent to me that this practice is damaging a part of my soul.  Only bad news is reported on the TV and radio, only what is sensational, and it is becoming harder and harder to listen to.  Particularly recently with the news about the Paris attacks, the refugees in Calais, the bombing of Syria and another mass shooting in America, I have engaged emotionally with these topics and spent time weeping at the telly, having that horrible feeling of compassion in watching a terrible situation and wanting to help but not really being able to do anything about it.

Other items in the news just make me angry, politician's behavior, they way money is distributed, the way the media spread damaging misinformation, the way the environmental issues are marginalized, I could go on. It's all bad, bad, bad.

I used to engage with the sad situations, and the infuriating situations, by feeling sad, crying, getting passionate, getting angry, I might sign a petition or two, write a letter to an MP, moan to friends and spend time thinking about it.

In some strange way I felt like if I felt sad for people, if I felt empathy for them, I would somehow be helping them by acknowledging how bad their situation was.

But I realise now that I am not helping them at all by feeling sad.  All I can do is what I can here, where I am.  I am not in a position to travel to other countries and physically help other people, nor am I in a position to be able to donate any significant amounts of money.  But what I can do is make small changes to my little world right here.

I recently read an essay by Thomas Moore from a book called the The Soul of Nature, the essay is called Ecology:Sacred Homemaking,  It talks about how important it is for us humans to have a sense of home and how if we have a strong sense of attachment to a place of "home" we can extend that feeling beyond the walls of our house into the rest of the world.  It says:

          "Once we have the imagination that sees home in such a profound and far-reaching sense,                    protection of the environment will follow, for ecology is a state of mind, an attitude, and a                  posture that begins at the very place you find yourself this minute, and extends to places you              will never see in your lifetime.  The description of divinity ascribed to the mythological                      magnus Hermes Trismegistus and repeated by Neo-Platonists down the centuries applies to                  our view of ecology: "God is a sphere whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference              is nowhere."  The object of our ecological concern is nothing less than that sphere, and yet it is            felt as the most intimate enclosure and embrace."

The message I got from the essay was that if we create a sense of home (which is something we love and care for), close to us then that automatically extends into the world through our consciousness.
Although this is referring more to environmental concerns I feel it extends to issues such as peace as well.

Mother Teresa said:

               "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

To me this is so profound and meaningful because it is something that I CAN do, and feelings of helplessness with the state of the world dissipate when I focus on what is close by and achievable.  Why would I want to poison myself with the negativity that is happening in the world that I am out of control of when I can focus on the positive changes I can make in the environment and with the people around me?

So I am opting out of watching the news, the soul destroying, emotionally disabling, rotten, horrid news.  And focusing on things I can do, just like Theodoor Roosevelt said:

                               "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

It's not about burying my head in the sand and pretending bad things aren't happening, I know bad things are happening and will always happen, it's about self protection, self preservation, I can't be a positive influence in the world if I am feeling miserable and desperate and negative all the time because of what is going on.

A water colour painting I did in the wee hours of this morning.

So here's to positivity and doing what you can, I CAN heal the world, but it starts at home.