You might say that 2016 has been a rather stressful year.
There were so many soccer-punches this year that it was hard to comprehend. I was particularly rocked by the terrorist attack in Nice. Returning from a two month trip to France made it all too real having just walked along the board walk myself. Then there was the apocalyptic American election. As Carla Sosenko puts it,
“The most anxiety-inducing, Xanax-requiring election cycle in recent history”.
Observing Brexit and then watching Trump get elected made me feel that the earth was off tilt somehow. It was awful to watch American and British politics reveal such rifts and divisions in their societies. Syria – no words. Just many tears as I watched horror after horror unfold in that part of the world particularly in regard to the children. Then there was the senseless Orlando mass shooting and the murder of British MP Jo Cox.
Closer to home there has been the rising epidemic in deaths by domestic violence, as of the 9th of December, 70 women have been violently killed by their partners. I am still unable to come to terms with the inhumane treatment of refugees at Nauru and Manus Islands and to add to that, the way that children in youth detention have been tortured and denied the most basic of human rights as we watched the horror at Don Dale youth detention centre unfold in the NT.
My friends ask me, has the world gone mad? Has it always been like this and we somehow haven’t known. Is global and social media just making these things more knowable? On Twitter The Weird World tweeted:
‘2016 is like a montage of news footage you see in the beginning of a post-apocalyptic movie explaining how the world was ruined’.
You have to ask: Has Quentin Tarantino been directing 2016?
Then we have had all the conspiracy theories, the anti muslim rhetoric and all the end of the world doomsayers.
I am not writing this to make us even more depressed. I think the trick is not becoming anaesthetised to the pain. We cannot become apathetic, nor can we switch off. Many of my friends just don’t want to know, they won’t even watch the news. For some who are struggling with mental health issues or who are neck-deep in their own personal struggles I can understand this. But I fear that if we disconnect, we lose the ability to show compassion and empathy.
I write this from the privileged position of being able to make a choice to disconnect. I am not living in Syria, I am not seeking refuge by boat, I have not lost a sister or daughter to domestic violence.
Therefore I wonder if we, the stronger. the more able. have a greater moral duty to stand up and make a difference. To have an opinion, to be informed to not look away.
The ancient texts talk about the importance of wisdom but it they also point out how crucial it is to get understanding.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7
Knowledge is easily accessible today. Understanding is much harder. To have understanding means that we comprehend, we see, we get it, we perceive, we grasp it. We are told to get understanding because this means that if we understand we can have empathy and show compassion. For empathy is the twin to understanding.
Knowledge is about US knowing, understanding is about empathy. About comprehending what the OTHER is going through and to be able to share the feelings of the other. When we do this we are more likely to stand up for justice and to protect the weak and the innocent.
If we are to be people of love, then it is our duty to understand. We read the summary above and it is obvious that the world is contaminated with bad stuff, with evil, with corruption, with pain and hurt.
Our job is to make a difference in our patch, in our part of the world, with the people that we meet and do life with. Our job is to infect our communities with good stuff. With generosity, kindness, love, tolerance, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness.
The effect of feeling helpless in the face of such enormous crisis is to make us overwhelmed and to shut down and to shut off. It’s too much, it’s too hard. Please don’t.
We need to be switched on, we need to understand that we CAN make a difference. Our attitudes and our treatment of those around us does and will change things.
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. Margaret Mead
This Christmas season as we come to the end of this trying year. Please remember to act in the spirit of Christmas. Be Kind, Be Loving, Be Generous, Be Gentle with each other. Demonstrate goodness and tolerance around the differences that we have.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. Jack Layton
Love is all that matters. Love wins every time. Jesus said that “The Greatest of these is Love”.
Love Lisa. xxx
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