“The Sky Is Not Falling!”

...even if the world is getting worse

Chicken_Little

image ©Disney Corporation, 2005

If the line that we see the world not as it is but as we are is true (and I’m convinced it is), there are a lot of dark, fearful, negative, cynical people in the world who look around them and see only despair, only things to fear, only the sky falling down around them.

I find myself affected by this. It’s hard work running around crying “the sky is not falling” to a world that is curiously convinced that it is, that there is no hope, that we have reason to despair in this generation, that America and the world are going to hell in a hand basket. The dreariness and hopelessness are penetrating. They get under your skin and drag you into this gloomy world, where everything is wrong, everything is a cause for outrage, everything cries out, “Don’t be naive — it’s awful and it’s only going to get worse.”

Even if the world is getting worse (and by many measures, the world has never been better), I’m getting better. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m learning what to do with my pain. I’m learning how to suffer, and that’s good because suffering is inevitable in this world. I’m learning how to accept with some measure of grace the people, the health and abilities, the agility, all the things I am losing day by day. I’m learning how to keep rising from the ruins of my life again and again, keep the candle of hope burning.

I will not join the ranks of those who are always angry and fearful, who indeed seem to believe that it’s morally wrong to see good even among the crumbling ruins of the world. I will not be part of those who hate and hate and hate, worry and worry and worry, who are always outraged that there’s not enough outrage about their pet causes, who decide that the only way to fix our problems is to keep building physical and metaphorical walls higher and higher to separate us from one another.

This is self-defeating and corrosive. It casts anxiety into the ether by the barrel-full, it radiates off of people, and anxious people — when anxiety cannot be relieved — become isolated and desperate. The fear and the sky is falling talk are not going to lead us to seriously address the world’s problems, but are themselves the very worst problem we must address.

Where does that happen? Not in politics or government, but in my heart, and in yours — in how we choose to see the world, how we look out from our eyes and how we choose to interpret what we see.

How do I interpret the world today? I say there is no leader to save us, no shepherd to take us to the promised land. The better world we all desire exists as potential in each of us. We bring that world to fruition as we stop radiating panic and fear and become outposts of peace, love, compassion, and courage. If that world fails to materialize, do not blame Barack Obama. Do not blame Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. They cannot keep you from being an outpost of peace in the world, but nor can they make you. It is up to you.

The sky is not falling. Even if the world is getting worse.

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  • http://kirbyingles.com/ Kirby Ingles

    David,

    About 2008 I made a huge change in my life because I was that person you described. I was miserable to be around because everything was a debate and the world in my view was going in the wrong direction. Glued to 24-hour news everything seemed like it was against me in some way. Going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset wasn’t hard because the feeling was euphoric to have the weight of the world lifted off your shoulders. I probably do not watch more than an hour of news a week if that these days. I run into people like my former self and I smile. I offer some kind words and allow them to vent their frustrations. Then ask them what they learned from all this. It usually grounds them and stops to make them think. Nice work on the article.

    • http://DavidKFlowers.com/ David Flowers

      This ranks as one of my all-time favorite responses to one of my posts, Kirby. So glad you read and commented. It adds so much weight and legitimacy to what I’m trying to say in my post.

      Yep, once you get to a different place, you can see that anxiety so easily in other people, when before you couldn’t see it in yourself at all.

  • http://www.coffeeshopconversations.com/ Jed Jurchenko

    Thanks David,

    I love this post and agree. There are so many advantages to being alive in this day and age. Perhaps our society is moving forward at a two steps forward, one step back pace? Some areas have regressed, while others have improved dramatically. I love your perspective of not bemoaning what is, but instead, focusing on the positive change that we can create.

    And, even If I’m wrong, and things are getting worse, I’d whole halfheartedly agree with you. The sky is not falling. God is still in control. Thanks for a great reminder not to get caught up in anxiety an pessimism. With all that is wrong with the world, there is still much going right. Love it!

    • http://DavidKFlowers.com/ David Flowers

      Thanks, Jed, I appreciate it. Sounds like we’re pretty much in lockstep on this.

  • Aaron Clum

    I am convinced the world is no worse than it has ever been. It is certainly more “in your face” do to social media and what not and we have more people but, I certainly don’t think it’s worse. We have just exchanged several kinds of evil for other kinds of evil (ask Native Americans and African Americans if the world was a much better place 100 years ago…. and I only say that because I hear some people say “if we could only go back to the way things use to be” which is usually said by some middle aged or older white dude). I too have made the choice to see the good and possibilities in the world. Very encouraging stuff Dave, thank you

    • http://www.coffeeshopconversations.com/ Jed Jurchenko

      I’m with you Aaron. If I had the opportunity to go back to 100 years ago, I wouldn’t take it either. I love your perspective on choosing to see all of the possibilities in the world!

    • http://DavidKFlowers.com/ David Flowers

      Thanks, Aaron. I’m right with you, brother. In the 21st century, people either learn to control their media consumption, or they will live with constant anxiety.