Almost 10 years ago I stopped reading, listening to and watching the news. The relentless onslaught of negative stories had become too much. I was already full of my own negativity and had no room for any more.
Later, I became frightened of being overwhelmed by my own emotional reaction to the news. I avoided looking at the pictures of hatred and violence and death because the waves of sadness and grief they triggered were too much to handle.
Today, I can’t hide. My social media feeds are full of news reports and the emotional pain of my teachers, friends and family. It feels like coverage of MH17 and the war in Gaza combined has somehow pushed many of us who don’t actually live in war zones into shock… as if more people than ever before are now in enough pain to ask “what is this world we have created?”
And for the first time ever, I’m feeling it all. I’m not sure whether it’s really true that something has shifted in our collective consciousness and we are ready to get way more real about the horrors we keep repeating. Or whether maybe I’m more sensitive than before, my heart now open enough to feel both my own rage and grief over the senseless killing and the shock and sadness coming from people on the street in suburban Oakland, where there are no bombs exploding today. Whatever the cause, I no longer feel like I can hide from the impact of the news media.
In hindsight, giving up news was an important first step towards my own emotional healing. But (as usual) I overdid it and thought I should/could block out my own emotional responses to the news along with the actual information. This morning I realised that, while I’m not about to start seeking out distressing news coverage, I don’t need to be frightened of it any more. I just need to be prepared to have my heart torn open, again and again. To sit in a cafe weeping quietly over my breakfast, mourning those who have died, knowing that perhaps hundreds of children also died this week in South Sudan without any recognition because that’s not the lead story today. Knowing that there is nothing I can do today to stop any of it. The only choice is to open my heart, see the fear that this pain will overwhelm me and choose instead to open again, ready to be used for restoring the balance in favour of life, however that may happen.
May all beings live free of fear. May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings walk in beauty, this day and every day. And for all those who have died this week, a swift and auspicious rebirth.