Six months ago I started this blog with the intent of challenging myself to view news with compassion.
I asked myself questions like: how can I truly engage in that which is different from me without allowing it to cull me back into fear.
To read the news on a daily basis is to be thrown without mercy into the truth that humanity has an infinite capacity for fear, which leads many to make choices that harm others.
To be affected by the suffering of others without having any tangible way to help alleviate that suffering.
It is to see that not only is there some pretty scary shit out there, but there are those who choose to make money competing for the most dramatic angle of the stories in order to pull in the highest marketing revenue.
I feared that facing these truths every day would leave me closed-hearted and disillusioned. Because, in the past, I allowed the news to dictate how I experienced it.
I assumed three years ago that the best way to avoid this feeling of disillusionment, which threatened to harden my heart to the intrinsic good of humanity (our infinite capacity for love), was to avoid the news as best as I could.
Taking a break helped. It did. I needed a good long break. Because I was coming at the news without purpose. I allowed the news to affect me exactly as it was presented by mass media.
I dutifully read headlines and articles because good citizens stay informed.
But in taking my break and in coming back to the news, I have been able to see that I have choices in being an informed person.
I choose what I read. I choose when I read it. If a subject interests me, I choose to read several different points of view. Because no one article, as filled with facts as it may be, can ever reveal the whole story.
Day two in creative writing 101 we learn one lesson: use the senses to tell your story.
Because it helps the reader feel like (s)he is there.
But news articles about events rarely take this approach.
There is who, what, when, possibly how. As in, how you should feel that this news affects you. But even the how is often implied in basic articles about events. This is why the media have different types of articles. Why in-depth analysis articles or series of articles exist.
And though these articles are often written by trusted journalists with experience and credibility in an area, I still read them with an awareness that it is only one point of view.
This is important for me.
If I get lost in the world of mass media, it’s because I have given up my power to the wave of several other’s agendas, opinions, and experiences which color their way of perceiving the world.
But I have my own opinions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs.
My agenda is to find love in this world every day. And some days that is fucking hard.
When headlines are about murders, human trafficking, war, shoulder shrugging in the face of mass suffering, politicians racing for office, it’s really difficult for me to not get swallowed up by this wall of yuck that is being presented as The News.
When I think back to the articles that have affected me most, I remember one about a man who was attacked brutally, an attack that was racially motivated, and when given the opportunity to speak to the media, this man used the chance to speak to his attackers.
He said that he forgave them. He still had bruises. He wanted to help relieve their suffering.
Because when we see the world through the eyes of our heart, we see that those who choose to harm others are truly suffering.
We see that although they do not feel deserving of kindness and compassion and joy and inclusiveness, they are, as is every human being.
That man and his way of seeing the world was such an inspiration that it stuck with me all these years later.
Through all the stories of gruesome violence.
Through all the reports of harm and cruelty and hatred and dismissal.
It was more powerful to me than any of that other stuff. It lead me on my own path that began with one question: how can he do that?
And the more I answered this question for myself, the more powerful I felt in embracing my own suffering, in walking through my own fear, in learning to find compassion for myself, and therefore for every human.
It’s not easy. There are some awful things out there that people choose to do to hurt others. Intentionally.
And on my journey, it was intent that snagged me. Because it’s easier to have compassion for someone who unknowingly causes harm.
Through this coming back to the news, I’ve challenged myself to find compassion for people who choose to harm with the intent to harm.
I could not understand it at first. Why anyone would want to hurt another. How can hurting another make anyone feel good?
I’ve come to see how deeply these people are suffering. How unskilled they are in being able to make different choices. How disempowered they feel. How afraid. How confused.
When love is seen as hurtful, how can we get to a point of seeing love clearly? It takes work. It takes courage and insight and patience and a willingness to change, a willingness to question our ego.
It took courage for me to come back to the news not knowing for sure if I could do so without getting lost in fear again.
I don’t believe that the world is shit. It’s been shown that we have an infinite capacity for fear. If we have infinite capacity for fear, then we have infinite capacity for love, compassion.
When the world is presented as shit, I can feel the suffering, I can wish love for those suffering, I can do what I can to help alleviate that suffering and accept the suffering I witness that I cannot do anything to alleviate.
I can shift my focus and find joy and laughter, I can step back and get a greater perspective.
It’s the difference between giving up my power to the way others present the world and accepting my power to make choices and to stay in my belief that love is just as strong and present in this world.
Today. Right now. Every day.
I choose Love. Again and again.