“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I consider myself somewhat of a “news junkie”; I believe that my need to know what is happening in the world and in politics stems from my interior need to feel “in control”. Not that I am ever completely in control, none of us are; but in my mind, at least, the more I know of what is happening in the world the more I believe I understand the world. But news headlines alone do not offer an understanding into the lives, feelings, experiences of others. All the headlines do is give me information.
I share this because I have realized that the more I hear about world and local events the more frustrated I become. The headlines are no longer helping me to feel in control; quite the opposite to be honest. The world seems to be falling apart around us, and it seems to me that many people either don’t see it or don’t want to see it. Our world is under a lot of pressure, and many of us are feeling the tension.
In his book Yours, Jack, C. S. Lewis writes, and I paraphrase, that people are more anxious because we know too much about the happenings and events around the world. Lewis posits the theory that our emotions can only handle local stressors and that we were never meant to cope emotionally with the stresses of the entire world. While I don’t completely agree with Lewis’ premise, I do agree that we are emotionally overwhelmed by the instantaneous and constant bombardment with negative news. Naturally, for most people, when life becomes overwhelming we shut down and turn inward. Although this is a natural response, I worry that as so many people are now responding in this way we are turning into an isolated society.
So, where does all of this leave us? For me, I turn to the quote I posted above by Longfellow. I believe that when we feel emotionally overwhelmed with all that is happening in the world, or in our own lives, we need to slow down, focus, and reach out to others.
My favorite song from the group Queen is “Under Pressure”. Below is a video of the song with the lyrics, but the part of the song which speaks to me the most is the ending:
“Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves”
Powerful lyrics and message! Reaching beyond ourselves challenges us to change not only how we view others, but reaching out in love challenges us to change ourselves. And most of us don’t like change. Here are some of my suggestions. Feel free to share with us some of your ways of coping with the pressure of our world.
- Slow down. Slow your breathing; slow your thoughts
- Pray to your Higher Power, feeling that there is something greater than us. It doesn’t end with us
- Reach out to others; don’t isolate
- Find ways to help others; small gestures of a smile, acknowledgement, gratitude. If you are able to do more, do what you can without burdening yourself. You aren’t meant to save the world, just to make those around you feel loved
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