My Friday morning drive to the office inspired some reflection. While merging onto the interstate, I noticed sections of it were closed, including the one I needed to take. I could already see the reason, in what seemed to be a funeral procession of first responders. It was mostly police cars, so I thought perhaps a police officer was killed in the line of duty. I tried to reroute, but the traffic was backed up, both on and off the interstate. I could feel a bit of anxiety build, realizing it was highly likely I would now be late this morning. But as quickly as that thought came, it was replaced almost instantly, by a feeling of sadness. I took a deep breath and sent peace and healing for everyone touched by the loss. I felt a bit ignorant not realizing this processional was taking place. And more importantly, unaware that a loss of this kind happened in my city. But these are the consequences of not watching the news.
A little about me, I generally don’t watch the news on a regular basis. Call it irresponsible, call it avoidant, but I’ve learned a long time ago that one of my purposes in this world, is to ensure my faith and hope in humanity remains intact. Therefore, I need to be mindful of how much and the type of programming I watch, the articles I read, etc. When I do watch programs emphasizing the negativity of this world, I can feel a growing discomfort. If left unattended, it slowly morphs into doubt. And when I begin to feel doubt in humanity, my purpose is at risk. Self-preservation kicks in and I’m reminded that I decide which choices to make that align with my values and serve my higher purpose. I decide how to respond, rather than simply react. The truth is, even not watching the news regularly, I’m made aware of the countless tragedies exhibiting how people hurt each other. There’s no escaping that truth.
Spiritual leaders have recommended that if we wish to experience kindness, we need to see only kindness; if we wish to experience love, see only love. Directing our attention to kindness and love is a conscious practice. Being mindful of what we give our attention to and how we choose to spend our time, is an act of self-care. Though our primitive brains are wired to scan for danger, we must balance these instincts with logic and reason. It’s not an easy practice given the many atrocities of this world. But the key is understanding the difference between detaching in denial and detaching with acceptance. I don’t deny there is pain in this world. I accept that there is suffering. And though I am not accountable for the choices of others, the reality is, other people’s choices do affect us; directly and indirectly. But as the saying goes, we cannot control the choices of others, but we can only control our responses. Therefore, I’ve learned to respond by minding the balance of what I pay attention to. Allowing my focus to also include the positive, “non-newsworthy” choices made every single day, including my own.
There is kindness, love and compassion all around us. When we choose to open our hearts and our minds, we can see the joy of this world, just as clearly as the pain. We can accept the law of duality exists and empower ourselves with responses rather than reactions; conscious choices, rather than impulsive ones. Preserving my faith and hope isn’t always easy, but the consequences of losing it, are irreversible. And those are consequences I choose not to endure.