Even after all the lovely words I wrote yesterday and the beginnings of a shift in my home life, I lost my cool as I was trying to get the kids ready to go out in the afternoon. Admittedly, this is my least favourite time of day. I have a tendency to wait to get them out of the house until they are literally bouncing off the walls, and so you can imagine how wrangling the three of them, in that state, when my patience is at it’s limits, is my personal hell.
But I realized something else yesterday, and it lead me to do some deeper reflecting. Right before I lost it and yelled, I’d been reading the news. I’d just finished reading an article about Donald Trump’s plans to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. I haven’t shed a tear in the last week over his election, but this really brought it home to me. This is happening. It’s not reversible and it’s going to have such far reaching effects that we can’t even begin to comprehend. My heart broke for my American sisters and their right to choose what happens to their bodies. That right has been under assault for as long as it’s been theirs, but there are those in the Supreme Court who defend it as best they can.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes that we must be mindful of the foods we ingest, and he includes not just actual foods but mental and spiritual foods. He writes that if we water the seeds of anger or hate or distress in our minds, then those are the seeds that will grow. Am I watering the seeds of anger by ingesting so many news stories and op-ed pieces, every day, that trigger my anger, my sadness, my feelings of hopelessness for the future? And where is the balance of looking at what is going on in the world, of bearing witness to it, and also protecting our hearts and minds? I recognize it is my privilege to even consider looking away, for a moment, from all of this. My right to an abortion isn’t under attack. My family isn’t being targeted by hate crime, isn’t under threat of deportation.
But if peace starts at home, then I need to do all that I can to water the seeds of love, peace, kindness and compassion within myself and my children. For now, I think I need to step back a bit from the big picture, the overwhelm of what is happening in the world, and focus down. Here is some of what I plan to do that:
- read the Recommendations for report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- do what I can to ensure proportional representation is implemented here in Canada
- read and write more poetry
- talk about and model respect, empathy and kindness with my kids
I don’t want to stick my head in the sand. I don’t want to pretend like everything is okay. But I do think that it’s necessary in my life right now to pay close attention to what I take in, and how it’s affecting what I put out. Perhaps it’s time to focus on actions, my own and the actions of others. To seek out stories of hope and change. It’s an exercise of my privilege to completely avoid the news; I’m not sure I can do that. I think I have to continue to look, to hear what others are saying and bear witness to their experience. I need to find the balance, though, between looking and falling into despair.
Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the news lately? Has it been having an effect on your relationships? What actions for change do you plan to take?
Photo via Flickr user Kaveh F. Azad