Pages

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bad Things Are Happening

I don’t watch the news.

I cannot tell you how many times my husband has called me from wherever he is to ask “Did you hear about (insert horrible event)?”

No.  I haven’t heard.  I haven’t seen, and I haven’t read.  He can’t believe that I would be so ill-informed on purpose.  I do have reasons.

The bad stuff poisons me.  It haunts me actively.  My imagination runs wild with the stories, the anguish, the meanness.  A normal day can quickly turn to despair just by dwelling on the bad stuff for a few minutes.  Many people don’t understand how a person could so willfully ignore the details of what’s happening in the world.  Don’t I want to know the details, the repercussions, the facts about what’s going on?

No.  Not really.

After the terror attacks in Paris last week I turned on a live stream of the commentary as a search for the attackers unfolded.  Paris is my favorite city in the world.  I have a friend who lives just outside the city, and I felt like I should know what happened there.  Almost immediately I saw a video of a man shot and killed, his life intact one moment and his dead body slumped up against a wall the next.  The image was blurred but it’s all I needed to see to know that I had seen enough.  I marveled that not too long ago a person could go though her entire life not ever seeing a person die but these days you can sit in front of a screen in your home and witness death on demand.  Death used to be more sacred.

The whole day was colored by these images.  I imagined this man’s spouse, his children, his friends all watching his life end this way.  They will never unsee the images.  They might replay them over and over, just to have proof that their loved one walked the earth, that he once had breath, a morbid need to see him alive once, twice, twenty times before his life was stolen away.

I imagine what could have prevented his death.  A change of heart by one of the attackers, a steel door, a last-minute fire drill at the magazine offices, a water main break that sent everyone home.

It’s no good, to dwell on the bad.  Everybody tells you this.  It can destroy your mind, your relationships.  Yet I can’t seem to think about anything else when it’s right there.  I try – using refocus, distractions, prayer – but the bad sneaks back in.

A while ago, a friend spoke about protecting her mind from evil.  She said that she really has to be careful about what she reads or watches on TV or in the movies.  She and her husband have a hard time finding things to watch together because he’s not as sensitive as she is.  I related to this wholly.  My husband has no problem watching violence, war, death onscreen.   He can forget about it as soon as the credits stop rolling.  Over ten years ago I watched a movie – a psychological drama, not even a horror movie – that I still can’t get out of my mind.  I… just can’t.

So I don’t watch.  Or hear.  Or read.  I get the gist, and then I try to put it out of my head.  I know that terrible things are happening in this world.  I follow the lead of my friend, and this advice:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.  Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)

I want to be worked into God’s most excellent harmonies.  I may be soft of mind, someone who just can’t dwell the truths of the world, and for my ignorance I may suffer.   I may miss the details.  I will never be an international journalist.  I will not be involved in many conversations about current events past the cursory “Did you hear about…?”

No.  I haven’t heard.


*******

15 comments:

  1. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Like you, I am sensitive and know that some things don't need to be bouncing around in my brain. I have always been protective about what I see and hear, and I believe it is wise. I rarely watch the news, and certainly not the local news, ever. I know that there is violence and cruelty and death in the world, but I don't need specifics or ongoing examples seared into my mind. I love this post, and I love the advice. I try to be protective of what my child sees, too. As she gets older and more exposed the world, it gets harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Cary. When my friend confessed her need to protect her mind I didn't know that this was what I was doing by avoiding bad news. When I intentionally focus on the good stuff, my soul feels stronger. I have one child who is okay with the hard things and one who is sensitive like me. Both of them hear from me that we need to pay attention to what we're putting into our heads.

      Delete
  2. Oh, shoot! I wrote a whole long comment but forgot to sign in first.

    I just wanted to say that I get this. I get what you are expressing here. Evil poisons my mind and drowns my hope. Not good. I stopped watching the news long ago but can't seem to give up reading the paper, and it has only made me more cynical. Another very bad side effect has been the change in my views on the male sex. Now I struggle not to see them as inherently violent and lust-driven. That is a struggle for me now simply because of the plethora of stories I have read, and yet I know that there are evil women out there as well.

    A sensitive mind, I believe, is a good thing. I obstinately work to protect those of my children. Yes, they should view death as sacred. They should not grow immune to seeing someone's life ebb or flash away. We Christian take death and life and life's choices very seriously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hillary, I struggle with my own views on men in similar ways. It's not fair to my husband, who sometimes gets the brunt of my angst.

      You are smart to protect your children's minds. I try to, although as they get older it becomes more difficult and they must make their own decisions. After all, they are not me.

      Delete
  3. I too do not watch the news and people always think I am crazy to be uninformed. I see enough bad stuff going on my Facebook feed that I don't need to see it on TV also. However, a movie doesn't bother me in the least simply because I know it is fiction and they are all actors/actresses. I think it is just the reality of the news that bothers me more then anything else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. The reality - that somewhere, these things really happened - that's what gets me, too. The movies affect me because someone had to think the idea up to produce such images and story lines.

      Delete
  4. I agree. These days, it appears to be 'normal' to show violence on TV. The media is really good at portraying the 'broken record'; they show footage like that over and over and over again. For days, you'll see it pop up on your screen, and then it disappears as if it never happened. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It disappears from our screens, but it lives in our minds and hearts. It saddens me, too.

      Delete
  5. I so relate to this I am like you, and my husband is frustrated with me as well. What goes in will come out no matter what!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good way of looking at it. I can really tell how my attitude changes after I've seen or read something disturbing.

      Delete
  6. I knew someone once who said he thought it would be so much better if the news broadcasts went like this: Today we had two fires, one accident, and three robberies. Now sports and other good stuff. Said in jest, but his point was clear - we focus way too much on the bad and the good falls to the bottom of the broadcast. No good.
    Check out my blog today (Monday) for something I think might interest you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that style of news best. It's really all the info I need. :)

      Love the Compassion movement!!

      Delete
  7. In capital letters, and in the most non-screaming-at-you way possible: I FEEL THE SAME WAY.

    Sometimes dwelling on the things that are wrong in the world really do put a damper on your day. To be informed is one thing I suppose, but to be consumed is to be obsessive. I totally agree with your reasons. I choose not to even indulge in some entertainment for similar reasons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Making the decision to abstain from the things that poison my mind is hard to do, especially when it seems that many are necessary to stay on the pulse of society. But I always feel better after saying no to them.

      Delete