By all accounts 2016 has been a rough year.
I’m told if you turn on the news you’re faced with obituaries of beloved stars, wars tearing apart lives and countries, and mother nature wrecking havoc on those caught in between. Add to that personal struggles: illness, finances, relational, etc. . .
I know so many who have simply stopped watching the news (myself included) and so many eagerly awaiting the advent of 2017 solely for the blank slate it offers.
This makes sense to me.The eagerness for a new start, the hungriness for hope, the longing for the world made right again. The other day I saw someone posting a link to a news article referencing the crisis in Syria. A commented, unknown by me, lashed out at our mutual friend for posting the article full of dire statistics and heartbreaking images, angry at what they deemed another guilt inducing post. This made sense to me too.
Thanks to social media, 24 hour a day news service, and our constant connectivity doom and gloom is always threatening to encroach upon the bubbles we build up for ourselves, our carefully constructed walls of self-care and “positivity”, walls we build up lest our mental health crack under the strain and crack it does.
Secondary trauma is real and it’s becoming more apparent in my everyday life how much a role media plays in that. Social media and all hours newscasts give us access to the horror, meant to inform but often does little more than shock, entertain, and close off it’s audience to the need, relegating user participation to little more than a like or emote to show our response to a world gone mad.
and hence enters our problem, we were made for more.
According to my own understanding of theology and scripture the church is meant to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. We are meant to grieve with this who grieve and bear one another’s burdens. This are almost impossible to accomplish through a disconnected screen in our own little worlds.
To enter in, to bear, to love these are all actions they require response and actions to truly be brought to fruition and to stunt these natural responses leads to increased hopelessness, isolation, and shutting down.
If we are truly to see 2017 as a better year it is not going to be due to less celebrity deaths, happier news, or less severe weather (though all those would be a nice bonus). To truly see a better 2017 we must embrace a riskier form of love that calls us out from behind our screens and seeking out ways to embrace and bear with our neighbours and brothers who are suffering whether it is in person or collecting supplies and information from afar. If we really want a better 2017 it’s up to us to risk.