Recently, there has been overwhelming news coverage about the school shooting in Connecticut, claiming the lives of so many young children and adults working at the school. Accompanying that has been the story of end of the Mayan calendar (12/21/12), which has been persistently (misreported) as a prediction for the end of the world.
Both of these incidents can create a profound experience of anxiety or even terror in many people. In the case of the school shooting, parents, schools, teachers and the public in general are left feeling vulnerable and frightened, helpless to stop violence against young children. In the case of the (false) apocalyptic prediction, people are left feeling frightened and helpless to stop the sudden end of the world.
Our response to these stories directly relates to my last article, on facing our powerlessness. The underlying truth of powerlessness in these cases must be faced: no matter what we do, we cannot ensure that no harm comes to our children. We birth them, raise them to the best of our ability, teach them everything we can, and then send them out into the world. We simply must hope for the best. Similarly, there is nothing we can do about some sort of event in the cosmos that may or may not cause the earth’s demise. We must live our lives on this planet hoping that it continues on its course around the sun.
Similarly, while we may not be able to stop a giant black hole from swallowing up our planet, we are capable of doing our part to reduce global warming, help save endangered species, or a myriad of other things that can help to preserve our planet and those we share it with. These are actions we can take to save the earth.
And so, as citizens, both locally and globally, we face the same process as we do in relationship with our loved ones, officemates, and friends: discovering how to live in the balance between admitting on some level that we are powerless, while at the same time (and through that process) finding the power we do have to make real, powerful, and lasting change.
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