Over the last few months, we have had to process a lot of conflict, violence, and loss. Around the world we’ve been trying to understand and find the “right” side of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and Syria and Beirut, the protests in Egypt, the US Presidential election and presence in Afghanistan, crime in our communities, and now the tragedy in Connecticut. Processing it all can be extremely overwhelming so while we often want to engage in the grief and discourse, it is often more manageable to disengage.
Now, I’m not suggesting that is it better to disengage than engage, but merely discussing the reality of how difficult it can be to process all of it. Depending upon our location in the world and our closeness to the issues we can choose to disengage, not because we don’t care, but because it can be more than one individual can handle at a given time. I self-identify as an active global citizen and believe I should be engaged in important social issues and current events; however, as a human being, I am sensitive to the amount of sadness and grief I can manage. I’m conscientious that these difficult and important issues can also cast a shadow over the things in life that bring us joy and we want to celebrate.
There is a lot of pressure from the media and our peers to take on the grief or take up the cause, and engage in discourse. It is as if there is some measure of our humanity based upon our response, and that feels unfair. It’s almost impossible to go onto Facebook or other social media and not be bombarded by the discourse which can be confusing and disconcerting. It’s okay to not engage in the discourse, Share or Like postings, or sign petitions! It doesn’t make you a bad or lesser person. We each have to find our own strategies to best deal with the conflict, violence, and loss.
So whether you choose to engage or disengage in the discourse, find a way to do the following in a way that makes sense to you:
- Acknowledge what has happened.
- Remember those who have been affected.
- Be conscientious of the impact on you and those around you.
- Be informed about the issues and know that there isn’t always a right or wrong side, but that most of these issues are complex and there is no single solution.
- Be the Change you want to See in the World
Today’s world can leave us feeling powerless and taking action helps restore a sense of power and control. This is what drives the discourse, but this too, can become overwhelming. Know we each have a role as citizens in this world to influence change, and it can happen in many different ways. Change can happen through even the smallest acts, you don’t have to be Gandhi or Martin Luther King, but being kind and sensitive, and an informed and active citizen can make a difference.
Be self-aware, and if disengaging feels right for now, then do it, perhaps taking a step back and the time to process will better prepare to engage when you are ready.