There are soooo many reasons to feel angry. And every reason is compelling, valid, and important.
I cannot believe what our new president is doing. I feared what kind of president he would be, and I’m even more afraid than I thought because his behavior is somehow worse in reality than in my imagination. It’s like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I want to kick my legs and gasp heavily, and wake up in bed, but this is real life.
A study I saw recently said we consume 3x as much information today as people did 30 years ago. Smart phones and social media make our attention immensely more vulnerable to bad news. Today, we have a steady stream of bad news. Today we don’t just see the report, we live with it in real time. This executive order and that unprecedented breach of ethics. This outrageous event and that.
I have no idea what is going to happen next. I fear blood will be shed at Standing Rock soon. I fear more blood will be shed in dozens of other places soon. I fear that our country is no longer the land of the free or the home of the brave, but the land of the selfish and the home of the greedy.
There is little I can do to amend the many sources of outrage reaching my screen. Unlike the emails I get from church and work, the notifications about our political climate offer me only a reminder of my own powerlessness within an immense and formidable system. Justice is only real in heaven, and on earth is only a shadow. But what I can do is control how much of this triplified information breaches my precious attention. I can put my phone into Do Not Disturb mode early in the evening to silence notifications until the next morning. I can put the phone away and I can refrain from opening Facebook, Reddit, and my usual sources of gloomy news.
I think it’s important that we all pay attention to our attention, that we mind our appetites for ill news, and that we instead commit ourselves to our singular arenas of influence. I want to focus my attention so that I can give more of my energy to where it will make the most difference. Instead of wasting it on social media trolls, questionable friends of tenuous friends, and headline feeds, I can choose to mute the feeds and comment threads. And I can choose to rest and gather my energies into the work I was born to do.
For me, that’s church work. It’s formation. It’s priest craft. My focus is offering space, prayer, and sacrament. My work is to trace the vistas of the heavenly kingdom that waits to spring all around us, if only the light could penetrate the dark of our pupils.
Lord, illuminate our eyes with your love, and strengthen us when we are weak, that we may hear the trumpet sound of your good news. Let not our outrage be in vain, but only the birthing pains of a blessed new kingdom where all our wounds shall be healed.