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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