Navigating the weight of the world, and of our hearts, as we move through this life, is a learning process. Times change, our lives unfold, and, at some point, we all get to deal with stress, chaos, and loss. Amidst the backdrop of world events, mass murders, climate change, a presidential election filled with turmoil, war, a humanitarian crises, and mass layoffs, we’re living in extremely turbulent times. Our governments seeming unwillingness and incapacity to meet some of these challenges is creating a heavy-heartedness, weighing down our democracy and wearing us out. We need to lift ourselves up, lighten up and keep on fighting for the things that really matter.
Whether you’re at the epicenter of this turbulence, or you are sitting lightheartedly with a friend at Starbucks many thousands of miles away, figuring out how to go on with life while wars rage on and our nation is so dangerously polarized is no simple matter. Dealing with the horror, sorrow, fear, anger, outrage, and helplessness while still being able to function in our job, family, home, and community can be unspeakably challenging. We all have personal lives to attend to but living in the “dark ages” of 2023-2024 is beyond anything most of us have ever had to deal with.
Some of us are actually living in danger, fearful and being subjected to hate speech and threats where we work, go to school, shop, or pray. Radicalized protestors are turning school campuses, religious gatherings, malls and movie theatres into war zones. Violence and unrest in the Middle East, Ukraine, and some of our cities, leave us searching for the strength, courage and faith to rise above it all.
Here are a few things that I’ve been doing to take care of myself and be part of the solution, not the problem:
- Stay out of emotionally charged conversations and situations that have absolutely no chance of becoming constructive.
- Do my best to listen and maintain a voice of reason with those who are capable and willing to talk about what’s going on and how they are doing.
- Remind myself that the willingness to listen, find common ground, and forge some degree of peace, understanding, and compassion is the antidote to escalating extremism and violence.
- Take breaks from breaking news. Coming up for air by walking in nature, talking to trusted confidants, listening to calming music, and venting my outrage, fear, and sorrow in a constructive setting strengthens my resilience. I may also take a yoga class and just step away from the TV or Internet until I feel ready to check back in.
- Do something that puts me on the solution side of matters and prevents me from feeling passive, indifferent, or helpless. This may involve staying informed using trustworthy sources, donating to humanitarian organizations, protesting and/or advocating for peace, and voting for leaders committed to forging peace.