Weight of a World
So, I know a lot of people are reading the news these past few weeks and days as the investigation into wrongdoing heats up in the U.S. capitol. A friend asked me yesterday if I read the news. I said, “No.” He was a little surprised. So he asked if I keep up with the news. I said, “If you mean the national news, I skim the headlines and might click here or there for context but I don’t read much of it.” I really don’t know if this surprised him. I’ve found that people meeting a minister tend to just chalk our weird ideas up to…well…weirdness.
But this is really what happened. I asked myself a while ago, “Does my comprehensive knowledge of current events make me happier or sadder?” And then I asked, “What good will come from maintaining this level of up-to-dated-ness?” I can participate in more nuanced discussions, but about what? About how people with unqualified power wield that power for their own self-interest, unmoved by the harm it does others? I’ve heard that story a few times already—so have you. And I find that when a policy or decision is in line with my beliefs, it’s more of a, “You don’t get credit for doing what you are supposed to do anyway” feeling.
I think another reason people stay up to date on news is to keep score or stay clear on whether our brand of believing or participating (politics, religion, etc.) is the correct one. But what I’ve seen is that no matter how correct my opinions seem to be, there is always a sufficient number who see things another way to block the way I see forward. Sociologists analyze this, philosophers cogitate on this, actuaries crunch the numbers, but somehow there remains a kind of push-me, pull-me battle pitched between sides convinced they are at odds with one another.
Now, to be clear, this sense of push-me, pull-me is more of a decades-long view. On a more day-to-day scale, there are times when people we despise violate norms and laws and we say, “See! I told you so.” And then we wait for the justice that’s coming. But there is not a disposition of justice or a length of a jail term that will actually satisfy us. And there is a good reason for that.
I think that there lives in each of us an intelligence, a way of knowing and feeling, that can sense just, loving actions, both around us and taken by us. The “current” news stories we see are only the crash of waves we’ve felt in the water our whole lives. Who would blame a wave for the way it crashes on the sand? The tides turn slowly, but they do turn over time under the push-me, pull-me tug of the nearest heavenly body to our planet. So when people ask you whether you read the news, maybe you should answer, “I’m a little too busy building a moon to judge the crash of a single wave.” They might think you’re weird, too. But you’ll get used to it. I have.
May it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.