Lately I’ve felt nudged towards thoughts and attitudes that in other times I would have called unhinged. Chaotic international and domestic events highlight supposed leaders whose pronouncements seem deranged. (For example, competing national leaders trumpet the supposed benefits of oppression and/or aggression. Incoherently angry people gather followers and legitimacy. Self-destructive lifestyles get portrayed as exemplary.) So much of life can seem out-of-whack, pushing me to wonder whom I can trust—or maybe where I can hide?
This almost-surreal state of the world has disturbed my sense of order, but not my sense of purpose. So it behooves me to change what I can—my own attitudes and behaviors—so that I don’t become part of the problem I name. I think I know what to do.
The first thing that comes to mind: Decreasing or eliminating my consumption of “news” that emphasizes derailments in the world. (Convenient as they are, my smartphone newsfeeds may not be all that helpful.) Another corrective/protective task: Not spreading near-madness in my conversations. (If my thoughts don’t really solve any societal problems, what’s the good in sharing my feckless thinking?) Still another: Holding fiercely to my capabilities for generosity, admiration, empathy or humility. (There’s nothing to be gained from my turning into yet another angry old man!)
Why think about this personal problem? A simple reality: When they are derailed, train cars lose their ability to move anywhere, to benefit anyone. If I become more and more off-balanced, spiritually and emotionally, I won’t be able to fulfill my sense of calling. If I’m edging toward derangement, I won’t be capable of helping anyone.
So I’m going to keep working on this part of my daily life. With God’s help—and surrounded by folks far wiser than me—I hope to stay on track!
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