Ferguson Missouri, Baltimore Maryland, every weekend in Chicago.
War on Christmas, black Friday matters, cyber bullying kills,
safe spaces, trigger words, 51 gender options on Facebook.
Redefining marriage in the name of tolerance, redefining tolerance for the sake of sin,
Selling aborted fetuses, pro-life murderer, our soldiers can’t defend themselves.
Too much rhetoric, so much incompetence, too many hurt feelings,
Bergdahl, Benghazi, San Bernardino.
Terrorism in the name of religion, war on religion in the name of political correctness,
children flooding our borders, media crossing the line, politicians have lost their minds.
Good is bad, bad is normal, nobody is wrong if everybody’s right,
test scores down, guns sales up, global warming causes everything.
Detroit is broke, Hollywood is morally bankrupt, Wall Street is corrupt.
Everybody has a smart phone, nobody has manners, certain words are now forbidden.
So much fear, so much anger, so little common sense,
Racism in the name of fairness, bigotry in the name of tolerance, theft in the name of justice.
Veterans left to die, IRS scandal, heath care costs are through the roof.
Bad news is old news, old ways are wrong, the truth has been imprisoned.
Can people find some sense of peace in the midst of so much chaos? How does someone keep all that from overwhelming them?
There are a couple of small, practical things that can make a big difference in managing those feelings.
Watching less doesn’t change the stuff that’s going on, and it certainly doesn’t stop the Media-Industrial-Complex from reporting on it, but it does change the amount of emotions you feel about it. I recommend people get more of their news by reading it in print or online. Even then they should be careful about how much they ingest and from where. So much news today is really just biased commentary. In fact, the news is now the focus of much of the news.
Next time you watch the news, observe how much time is dedicated to what another news outlet did or said. Bottom line: the news about an horrible event can be unsettling enough, the commentary the talking heads add to it can make it maddening.
Secondly, I would recommend blocking or deleting those friends on Facebook that keeps agitating the situation with memes that are designed to cause conflict and confrontation. Those post aren’t designed to solve a problem but to stir one up.
Besides limiting our intake of bad news, there are at least three overall strategies, three ways, toward finding that badly needed peace in a world gone mad.
1. One must have a proper perspective.
To have a happy and balanced life, one must have proper perspective about the bad things that happen to us. In fact, perspective is one of the keys to a more confident and joyful life.
Whether it is a bad economy, the threat of terrorism, war, natural disaster, or some other calamity, we must remember that these kinds of uncertain and frightful times have happened before. We do not face anything today not previously encountered by our ancestor nor will our children be spared from such things.
Renowned broadcaster Paul Harvey said, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times these.” Perspective is knowing and accepting that there is nothing new under the sun and despite what happens today, the sun will rise again tomorrow.
Listen to the wisdom of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. "I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come; As fish are caught in a cruel net or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them."
Bad things happen. Even to good people. Right? We wish it didn’t but it does. It rains on the just and the unjust alike, the scriptures tell us. All the wishful thinking in the world doesn’t change the fact that bad things happen. Live long enough and we will experience something horrible, something devastating, something truly life altering.
Chances are something terrible has already happened to you and it has you questioning yourself, doubting who you are and what you believe and you struggle to find peace. That is not unusual. Suffering naturally produces doubts and doubts take away our peace.
But allow me to say something about that, and listen to me very carefully - what happens to you does not say anything about you but how you respond does. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. The rotten things that happen to us does not diminish our worth or value. We are precious souls, loved by God, with gifts to give to the world. Never doubt that.
The mature person understands that life is not always fair, or just, or good, or kind. But we can be. When it comes to fixing a world gone mad, most of us are really not capable of doing much about it. We’re pretty limited that way. But each of us can choose to be fair, to be just, to be good, and to be kind. We can choose not to join the madness.
2. One must be equipped and committed to engage others in positive confrontation.
Confrontation is inevitable. But there is such a thing as positive confrontation.
The Bible admonishes, “As much as it depend on you be at peace with all people.” That’s certainly a worthy goal. But how do we do it? It may be more practical than you think. Consider these 10 ground rules for positive confrontation.
1. Focus on issues, not on personalities. Avoid personal attacks.
2. Separate your own opinion from the facts as you know it.
3. Acknowledge your hidden agendas.
4. Make sure you can restate the views of others before you debate them.
5. Don’t interrupt.
6. Don’t filibuster.
7. Check with all participants, especially the silent ones.
8. No hallway or parking lot discussion, share in the proper meeting.
9. Wear all your hats during the discussion. Look at it from every perspective.
10. Don’t advertise the disagreement but demonstrate full support of the decision.
Which is better, being kind or being right? I like to ask people that question. Of course, many try to get out of answering by saying we should do both. I agree. I think we can be both right and kind, honest and gentle, principled and relational. It's a symptom of a world gone mad that forces us to choose one over the other.
However, I like forcing people to give me only one answer. We can’t always maximize both of these virtues at the same time and it’s how individuals respond in those moments that reveal a lot about them. It's been my experience that most people pick being kind over being right when they are face to face with another human being. That seems only natural. But, in a group or a setting less personal, like social media, most people usually choose to be right rather than kind.
There is a time and a place for everything under the sun. Perhaps there is a time and a place to be right and there is another time and place to be kind. Knowing which is which requires a good measure of both truth and grace.
3. One must be committed to a peaceful third way.
Many of you are probably struggling with having to make a tough decision? Others are in ugly arguments and unproductive debates that continue to only escalate with each point made by both parties. Still others are in the middle of a conflict with someone because neither one of you will surrender your ground. There doesn't seem to be a peaceful solution. Here is a principle of life that might help. It's been a big help to me.
There is always a third way and that third way can be the peaceful solution.
We live in an “either or” world. We are forced to believe that we either have “this” or “that” choice to make. This narrow way of thinking often forces bad decisions based on limited options. But, there is always a third choice. However, we will not see that third choice, that third way, until we firmly believe that the world has more “and” than “or”.
If we believe there are only two options we simply won’t look for any more. But there is. There is always a third way. It takes creativity and sometimes a lot of courage to go against the two established options but I promise there is a third way. You just have believe it and then diligently search for it: “seek and you will find, ask and it will be answered, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
That is the Peaceful Third Way and it can help you flourish in a world gone mad.