We live in a world where it’s frighteningly easy to come across bad news.
Advances in technology invite horrors and ugliness we might otherwise be protected from into our living rooms, and the stories of strangers are brought into our hearts. There’s so much information at our fingertips that it’s easy to become desensitized to the stories we hear.
The stories of hardship and loss that infiltrate our lives on a daily basis. It’s hard to process all of it. To wrap our heads around the fact that every minute, somewhere, certain peoples’ lives are being forever altered while the rest of us go on about our days with normalcy.
I don’t think this is a bad thing, not fully. Ignorance might be blissful, but there’s far more good in the world than bad, and taking the two forces in tandem is just part of the bargain.
I guess the part I find to be the hardest is that each of these stories, every one of these people or families in need, deserves all the care and prayers in the world. People who’ve had their world turned upside down should know that the rest of us are there for them. They deserve more than what I can find on the internet.
Tonight I was watching a TV documentary about the prison system (it’s an awkward guilty pleasure) that happened to feature a case in Phoenix. It was several years old, but told the story of a young veteran who had been charged with and convicted of the murder of his girlfriend after he returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq, suffering from PTSD.
My curiosity piqued after the show, I began searching online to learn more about the status of the case. I found a wealth of information, more than I needed to really, but it was so strange to be reading about the death of a young woman who very well could have been a friend of mine. She graduated from the same college that I did, lived in the same city and worked as a veterinarian – my once-impassioned career aspiration. After reading about the case, and even some personal emails from her family members that ended up on a public blog, I just felt so sad. So overwhelmed. I think the most overwhelming part was that I could sit on my couch and read all about this young woman as part of a trial, when her life was so much more than that. It doesn’t seem appropriate that I can Google search someone’s beloved daughter or sister this way – that on a whim I have access to something so sacred to others – it feels wrong. Too invasive.
Sadness and evil exists all around us. People endure hardships and circumstances that I can’t even fathom. I really mean that – I likely can’t even imagine some of the things that happen to others. Yet the world spins madly on.
I’m wired to try to learn from every situation I encounter – the good, the bad and the strange – and I struggle when I can’t make sense of a situation or find my own sense of closure with it. Tonight, I’m realizing that I can’t always do this. Because some circumstances don’t impart knowledge or a lesson on us, they’re just something we must think about, quietly.
So perhaps our own quiet reflection is sometimes the best way to process and honor a situation, when there are no words or reasons for it.