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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

Guns & Toilet Paper

The daily news these days is one ceaseless depressing din. The current pandemic has us returning again and again to learn the new numbers: How fast is the disease spreading? How many lives has it taken? When will it end? Then there are all the disturbing side stories, about how some Canadians are hoarding toilet paper while some Americans are hoarding guns, revealing our distinctive approaches to the coming Apocalypse.

The problem is, we’re all required to do our part, to act sensibly and do what we can to beat this thing. So it doesn’t help when we feel defeated from the get go, as if we were hapless victims. It’s important to take a deep breath and then, mindfully and intentionally, do the next thing, just the next thing. It's through the small moment-to-moment day-to-day decisions of the world's population--all 7.7 billion of us--that change will come, regardless of the daily news.

Desiderata Image by Michel Shook

When Jean and I were married I asked if she would mind if we didn't start each day with the radio news, or with an alarm of any kind. She agreed, and we made a startling discovery. Not only did our bodies know exactly when to wake up, but we started our day slowly and deliberately--peacefully--without feeling we were too late, that the world had started without us, and was already in crisis.

I now get the headlines delivered to my phone each morning. When I'm ready, I scan them to get a sense of what's happening in the world. If there's something demanding my attention I read the story. Otherwise, I wait till the weekend, when we get an actual newspaper delivered to our door and I take the time to become more roundly and deeply informed.

I find it useful to keep the world at bay until I'm ready to face it. Then I can think about it and formulate my response. This helps remind me that I'm not a victim. This is my day and I am its principal actor. My opinions can be formed, and my actions forged, not in a fearful reactive mode, but with an empowering sense of purpose. I'm creating a little space between myself and the world, until I'm ready to step out into it.

Yes, the daily news can be overwhelming. But all we're called to do is take the next step, and then the next. It's like we carry a lantern, and we move into the circle of light it casts, one step at a time. Our daily decisions, like those steps, are small ones. What do I need? How can I help? But they allow us to play our part in the healing of the world. It will be enough.

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