Has the world gone mad?


It certainly feels like it.  Violent and dangerous behavior seems to be standard. We aren’t shocked by mass shootings anymore.  A cargo ship takes down a major inner city bridge, causing chaos and death, AND not to be outdone, war is raging on the planet with all its horror.

If you are like me, you consider all this chaos and feel profoundly guilty as I ponder red or white geraniums, what to have for dinner, or what to wear.  Then, in a “twinkling of an eye,” I am filled with shame for not living in full appreciation of the ease of my life in comparison with my earthly co-habitants.

What if we were them?

No food for our children, everyone suffering.  It leaves me feeling far too helpless to consider for very long.  Alas, how do we cope?  How do we stay engaged and aware but not paralyzed by what’s all around us? 

In the big picture, I have no idea.  Should I reduce my exposure, hideout, or isolate to protect myself from the extreme discomfort of it all?  I do my fair share of burying my head in the sand, escaping, and diverting my attention.  But that only works for so long.  Eventually, you need to come up for air… 

We vote, we donate, we resist, we march.  We educate ourselves and have robust discussions with those who are sympatico and those who are not.  We experience the issues on fire, as much as we can tolerate.  It seems like a cycle to me.  We get fired up and intolerant of injustice and suffering.  We carry it around, talk about it, feel the visceral sting, and might, ultimately… feel voiceless and useless in the face of such global chaos. 

Reality is happening in Gaza, in the Ukraine, at the border. It’s also happening in our backyard, on our Main Street, in our schools, and at our jobs.  As much as we wish it were so, we cannot stop any of the madness in the “Macro-World.”  In truth, we live our lives in the “micro-world.”  Our universes of friends, family, neighbors, irritants, annoyances, joys, and devastation contribute to a feeling of powerlessness and can lead to “I quit.”

My life raft is a deep dive into my own world. 

Where can I be useful?  Who could I help in a meaningful way?  How can I bring some genuine goodness to someone in my orbit?  What are my resources?  Energy, money, time, service?  The opportunities are there, no question. 

You won’t have to look far.  People are hurting and in need at your job, in your town, in your neighborhood, and possibly in your own house.  Start there.  Start with what is obvious.  Just because it isn’t on the news or at the mega-disaster level doesn’t mean it’s not of extreme value. 

Mindset and attitude reign supreme here. 

The anger and rage in the public arena can be as seductive as the flip side.  We all have pain and disappointment that can be fed by the “mob” and cultivated to toxicity.  I feel it sometimes, pulling me to join in.  Every once in a while, I allow myself the indulgence of taking a deep dive into the boiling lava.  It is satisfying for about five minutes, and then I know it’s get out or get cooked.  Dipping your foot into the “this is a mess” pool is inevitable, but don’t linger. 

Not allowing myself to surrender to the “it’s all lost” mindset, I choose three things that I can do in my own corner of the world that will offset the madness: make eye contact with the people on the street and say hello; smile if I can manage it; let someone go at the intersection.  Not starting with Olympic training, starting with the meatball pitch.  Low-hanging fruit. 

Neuroscience practitioners estimate that new habits can be created in 21 days.  The payoff that you will get might not be immediate.  Imagine if your children/grands noticed your “empowerment.”  Remember, our actions are so loud, that kids often can’t hear what we say.  Modeling the best, the kind, the steady and stable can only be a good thing.  From road rage to gun violence to social unrest, we can reclaim our power.  Try out the super-power of good and see what happens.