If you follow the news, both from home and all around the world, there is enough that is at least discouraging, if not downright terrifying, to drive heads deep into the sand. There are plenty of reasons to feel the world is spinning out of control and that little can be done to stop the spinning.
I have tried refusing to pay attention to the news when it started to feel overwhelming but that didn’t work. I am a citizen, not only of my country but of the world, and I believe that I am therefore morally obligated to pay attention to the things happening both in my neighborhood and across the globe. Anyway, all that not paying attention accomplished was that I felt guilty for not being a responsible citizen.
Next I tried consuming as much news as possible. I wanted to be as well informed as I could possibly be. That also didn’t have the intended result. I was well informed but I was also overwhelmed. I couldn’t figure out which way to move for all the information that I was taking in.
At that point the impulse to follow the siren call and head to French Polynesia became very enticing. Since French Polynesia isn’t in the cards for me, or most of us, I needed to do something else to keep myself grounded and peaceful, without becoming disengaged.
What I finally came to was that I was going to have to figure out how to keep my internal balance while engaging with the world, with all its complexities. In times as turbulent as these, we can make the choice to keep ourselves generally well informed and then focus on the issues that are most important to us. I believe that to maintain our inner peace we must decide where to put our passion, our money and our time.
Which wrong do we see happening in the world that we want to put our energy towards righting, even if just a little? If we are able to write a check to our cause that is great. But what form will that engagement take beyond the financial? Monetary contributions are wonderful and needed but they don’t fill the place in us that longs for the connection that other types of engagement provide.
When we are assaulted by the events of the world finding our unique way of participating in a cause that we read about in the news, or see in our town, will help us arrive at a place of internal peace. We regain our balance by doing something, tiny or large, to make a difference in the life of another person. Taking our focus off what feels overwhelming and disheartening and putting that attention on an action we can take right now from where we are creates internal stability.
When we are pulled off-center by events outside our control we come back to ourselves by recognizing that we are part of a larger community. We are, in fact, not alone in our dreams, struggles and vision for the future. Our concerns are shared by others and we can work together to make progress and to support each other when things are tough.
Inner peace requires that we take the actions we can take. Sitting by when things disturb us without taking action is a recipe for internal unrest. Recognizing that even small actions matter, that tiny acts accumulate, puts us back in the position of being active in life, active in the world. When we don’t act we feel that we are at the affect of the events of the world. When we do what we can we are empowered, and in that empowerment lies the peace we all seek.