We are presented with thousands of terrible things happening daily across the country and the world. Our 24-hour news people and social media friends would have us watch the films and listen to analyses and opinions without pause – over and over.
Our view of the world becomes one of chaos. The burglary in San Diego might as well be a block away here in Indianapolis – and “they” are coming for you. Fear them.
Unless I plan to move elsewhere to correct the suffering in other cities and countries, is it healthy to be reminded of each day-to-day crime in cities 1,000 miles away?
Why do we need to know in what bar the estranged husband in Anchorage spent his time planning the crime?
Is it helpful to know that Jonathan’s DNA test on a television show revealed he is not the father of Daisy’s troubled child?
Do we need to see horrific photographs of tortured animals in Denver to know that evil exists? No.
Rather than entertain ourselves with distant torment, we need to concentrate on what we can do where we actually live. We can choose other television programs and limit our use of social media. And we can try to address the horror on our own Hoosier corner that frightens people in San Diego by volunteering for the food pantry or local domestic shelter.
This helps to eliminate two problems – the personal sense of hopeless chaos we receive and the very real problems suffered by people we are actually in a position to give help.
Only a jerk would be unmoved by the problems of distant people. And we do need to be aware. And donate. And if we think those problems deserve more attention from us personally -- we can move there to help.
To be clear, my “box” analogy can be misunderstood. I don't advocate huddling in seclusion, afraid of the world.
My “box” is along the last lines of Moliere’s Candide. After listening to the philosopher go on and on about the way of the world, practical Candide says, “That is very well put, but we must go and work our garden.”
To further the cliche, we can only do what we can do — and we must do what we must do. If our mind (and soul, perhaps) becomes overwhelmed with things we can’t control, we end up doing nothing.
And by "we" I mean "I."