What is interesting is that, despite not having a television, I have not missed a single major event in the world. Three of those events are on my mind today -- the riots in London, the tragedy in Norway, and the blackout in my house last night. (Yes, the one that took out huge tracts of Arizona, Mexico and Southern California).
I think they all raise the same question for us as human beings. How do we be with the fact that bad things happen in life?
An inescapable fact of human-ness is that stuff happens that is out of our control.
September 8th our power went down in Southern California and many people were stranded and in difficulty. In London people were horrified to watch their city spiral into chaos. Shocked Norwegians and a rising death toll left a wake of mourning families and resuscitated our own memories of 9/11.
Life simply refuses to stop challenging us. I don't believe that the answer is to resort to rage or numbness. I also don't think we can escape by avoidance. And that is certainly not what I'm trying to do by not having a TV! I want to be fully, intimately engaged in all of life, especially my own.
There is a terrible effect on our individual lives if we don't come to terms with what we don't control.
I notice that very often we end up limiting our responsiveness and dampening our humanity because we assume that trying to understand something is the same thing as condoning it. But that leaves us even less able to deal with our own lives and be happy.
On the radio show on this topic ("Bad News and Unwanted Events") I explored this more and talked about how to make sense of life and how to be with life in all it's aspects while still getting up in the morning and going on with having a good day.
As outside events happen you'll notice that individual responses to those events seems to vary considerably from one person to the next. This is true no matter how catastrophic the event. Some people recover quickly, some slowly, some are consumed with grief, some move on, some experience stress and immobilization while others experience a compulsion to help.
The fact that there is never any universal response to anything, tells us not only that people are different, but that the individual feeling of one's own life is specific and unique to them -- no matter what events have been a part of it. When I began to see more clearly that the game of life was being played inside me first and foremost, I began to feel less buffeted by the news of the world and much clearer about how I wanted to help.
As a result I am also more compassionate with everyone else in their own individual experiences and choices. It doesn't mean I like everything that happens, but it does mean I have a better understanding of how we all work as humans and how it is that tragic things can happen. That keeps me calm enough to be of use to others in tough times.
If you work supporting others through addictions, crisis and difficulty, and want to have real impact without burning out yourself -- it's possible to raise your own level of functioning so you can be of more use to everyone in your world -- my circle for difference makers.