Sunday, December 11, 2016

Shocking: Highly disturbing emotionally.
Highly offensive; indecent or distasteful

     What shocks you? Terrorist bombings that kill hundreds of people? Women who bare private parts in public? Men who disrespect women? Politicians who lie and cheat? Children who kill in the name of religion?

     I have heard myself say, “Nothing shocks me anymore.” This is really not true. There are still things that leave me breathless when I read about them or see them in a newscast. Have we become numb, though, to much of the violence, indecency, vulgarity and greed that surrounds us? Do we think, “Well, that’s in some remote part of the world; I can’t worry about that?” Do we say to ourselves, “Thank heavens, that didn’t happen to my family?” Maybe.

       When we cease to be shocked, we become numb. Unless the flames are on our doorsteps, we block them out. Unless the rape victim is a family member, we put it out of our minds. Unless the victims of a natural disaster are in our contact lists, we move on with our “to do” list. We all do, and maybe it’s because we have to become numb to survive. If we use our empathy for all the horror of the world, we would be emotionally spent in less than 48 hours. And yet, numb is as frightening. If we cease to be shocked because it’s happened so often, then we are less likely to be moved to act. If we turn away from injustice and abuse, we are almost as guilty as those causing it. But what can we do? That’s really the question: What can one person do?

     Part of the reason we don’t act is because we are afraid. We fear these things could happen to us, so if we put ourselves out there to stop the terror, the abuse, the injustice, we could fall victims ourselves. I always think to myself, “Small steps,” when I’m trying to confront an overwhelming issue. What small steps can we take? None seem to comfort me in my quest to leave the world a better place. At this holiday time of the year, the ache in my heart seems to grow to sink hole proportions, and I am brought to my knees, hands folded trying to think of a way I can make a difference. 

     What I’ve come up with seems minuscule and irrelevant, but it’s all I have to offer. I will model the behavior I want to see. I will smile at strangers. I will pray for friends who hurt, and I will send them notes and call them so they know I am sincere. I will compliment strangers wherever I go. I will let someone in a hurry get in line ahead of me. I will ask the sales clerk how her day is going. I will compliment parents whose children are behaving well. I will hug my family as many times as they will allow. I will work harder to be less judgmental, more forgiving, more tolerant, and less impatient. I will expect less perfection from myself and others, and I will pray for strength, not things. What will you do?