Speak of the Devil

…and he appears. Right?

I have an unfortunate tendency to pretend that things I don’t like are not happening. As an empath, I take everything to heart. It’s easy for me to become depressed or anxious about things that I can do nothing about. That’s the part that kills me, really. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could help. But in the grand scheme of things, what can I do about human trafficking? What can I do about nearly half a million children who are in the American foster care system? Or about AIDS in Africa?

There comes a point when empaths have to sit back. Turn off the news or delete your apps. Stop watching those ten channels that normally keep you informed. Unfollow or even block half of your Facebook friends.

And what? Live in a bubble?

For most of my life, I’ve lived in a bubble. This past election was the first time I was on Tumblr, Twitter, and even to some extent Facebook leading up to the election and seeing the fallout afterward. It was the first time I was actively on news media, the first time I saw for myself what a spectrum of presentation there is. Everyone was so surprised by the results.

Because what did we do? Unplugged. Unsubscribed. Unfollowed.

So how do I balance the two? How do I stay aware of what’s going on in the world without sapping myself emotionally about things I can’t affect? Maybe that’s not even the real question. Maybe the real question is, how do I keep myself emotionally patched up enough to continue to care about what matters?

One of my friends often posts on Facebook about being a foster parent. A recent post talked about how once you know the stories, it is impossible to say no when an opportunity to help arises.

Is that the answer? Stay informed, and when you are offered the opportunity to be the change, you say yes? Even if it’s something little, like volunteering an afternoon every couple of weeks. Or buying an extra can for the food bank when you go grocery shopping. Buying an extra package of tampons for the homeless shelter.

I don’t think I’m alone in pretending the world is fine, in crafting my own little corner of it that is peaceful and idyllic. A lot of the problems we have now began when people refused to talk. Something as small as a parent sitting their child down and explaining why alcohol and drugs are dangerous instead of just saying, “Don’t drink.” Passing down authentic standards instead of vague morals. Genuinely asking how someone is doing.

Use your words, right?

Why are we so afraid to talk about bad things? Are we afraid that, like the devil, if we mention something tragic, that same tragedy will befall us?

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