This week it’s been announced that Malaysian Airlines flight 370 and its crew and passengers totaling 239 people is considered lost at sea. A commuter train on its way to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago derailed, injuring over 30 people. And, a freak mudslide in Washington state has resulted in over two hundred people missing and feared dead.
Not exactly cheery news. And this wasn’t all that happened either. While we were inundated with the stories above by mass media, there is still fighting in Syria, suicide bombers in the Middle East, and human rights abuses throughout the planet. I’d like to be able to tell you the events noted here are exceptions to the rule, but the fact is horrible things are happening even as we speak. It’s called life. As King Solomon is believed to have said, “Time and unforeseen circumstances befall us all.”
I found it interesting how quickly we stopped hearing about Syria as soon as MH370 went missing. The truth is, we have a very short attention span with news reports unless we have a personal stake in the story. Media constantly scans the events of the day to see what can be sensationalized, thereby making their network the most watched, which, not-so-coincidentally, helps drive up advertising rates. We can ask, What happened? Why? Or, we can ask an even more interesting question: Why are we putting so much time, effort and energy into dwelling on disasters, crises, pain and suffering?
Now, before one of you writes me an angry email explaining in detail why we should care about others, please let me explain. This obsession with disaster has little to do with lovingly caring for those around us and those we don’t even know. It has to do with diverting our attention from what we could be doing and, instead, focusing on what other’s should be doing...or at least what we think they should be doing.
If you feel so inclined to support people suffering because of political conditions or disasters through your dollars, time or physical efforts by all means do so. Everyone helping even a little translates into a shift, even a small one, in the consciousness of the situation. I am merely suggesting that we focus on what we can do that will have the most impact.
The first thing we must do is keep the highest and best outcome at the forefront of our consciousness. The next thing we can do is to affect positive change wherever we can. I’ve known people who feel quite proud that they send money to a far off country to help those in need, but who are unwilling to offer to buy meal for a homeless person in their own town. I can’t personally contact Bashar al-Assad to discuss what I think would solve the problems in Syria. I can make sure that my interactions with others throughout the day, including my own family, are ones full of love, understanding and compassion.
“Why?” is a question that rarely has a satisfying answer in the moment. Rather, what affects change is asking, “How can I support you?”
Who is waiting for you to support them this week, and from whom are you willing to accept help? Seeking to learn the answer to those questions will keep you busy while the seemingly unanswerable get worked on, Wonderful side effects include less stress and more happiness.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,