You and I are getting consumed with drama. It’s making us more and more anxious.
I could use my academic analysis skills to help us see behind the curtain. We talk about people in the public eye as if they are people the same way the person next door is a people. We forget that in significant ways they are personas, more than people, dramatic characters more than living, breathing souls. The soul is back there behind the character but isn’t the character.
I could go there, but every step I take down that road captures my time and yours, distracts my attention and yours, squanders my resources and yours.
And that is ultimately deadly.
Because while I occupy myself with things so abstract, actual people in front of me are not seen. When I get angry at Washington or Moscow, Beijing or Hong Kong, Fox or NBC, that anger in my heart goes somewhere. That cynicism in my mind colors something.
It never, of course, goes to the geography or penetrate the screen to the persona who is speaking. Instead, the anger, the fear, the frustration, the despair works its way into my conversations with the people I see at work, with the people I love, with you.
The better way? The better way is from ancient and true poetry:
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
I have abandoned the frantic for the contented, the argument for the action. Or better, I am choosing and learning to live in the choice of keeping my eyes and heart committed and content with caring for the people and needs in front of me. Loving the one who God loves in the way God loves, welcoming then into the contentment of the presence of God. I’m following the nudges God lays in my heart, not the loud voices screaming on my screens.
Stop the stream. Filter the flurry. Resist the reactions. Comfort the crying. Care for the dying. Calm and quiet our souls.
Written in 2019
This Is Hard is what I say to people often when we’re talking about the death of a loved one. People I’m just meeting at work, and people I know in the real world. That’s why I have a supply of my own on hand. It may help you to have one or two, too. Because we don’t know when we’ll need to find words for those hardest moments.