Somebody someplace is ceaselessly saying something.
We can keep reading our feeds, texts, emails. I recall when CNN was born someone asking how they would fill a channel with twenty-four hours of news. That was ridiculous naturally: only God knows all of what happened yesterday and justly decides merits and demerits. CNN had so much to do:
Every nation has a story, too many to tell. Within each national story there are the stories of families so many not even a Russian novelist could capture them all. There are individual moments, tales from God’s holy fools living daily life. There was so much to tell, but CNN could not have told all of the best tales. They did not even try.
Living a normal life, one does one’s duty, loving God and neighbor. We do what we can and ask and give mercy when we can. How often?
Jesus once told a story that (partly) depended on a limit to our experience and knowledge of the world. A man encounters an injured man on the road and helps. This was the right thing to do, being a true neighbor. The helper, the Good Samaritan, showed mercy when he could. Jesus relied, in one sense, on the limits of our experience. We know our own pain and the difficulties of those in our community. We might hear about other problems, occasionally, and help, but we are mostly called to do what we can about what we know.
Now we know, and know, and know: ceaselessly we see evil, bad arguments, hurting souls. There is beauty, yes, but our Samaritan impulse overwhelms us. Fight or flight drowns out contemplation and meditation. We begin to see only the bad or the hurting. The desire to do justice and not mercy, becomes exhausted. We cannot help every hurting person we see on the side of the virtual road, because we see, hear, and read of more than anyone, but the Good God can stand. We are flooded with too many stories and have too little power: the closer one gets to omniscience about the day, the more one need omnipotence, but the longer we read a social media feed the less power to act we have.
Some of us handle that by becoming angry. Others simplify the world, resorting to simplistic overarching explanations about “them.” They are doing this and if we could just stop them, then everything would be better.” We look for some Great Man to sweep away all our problems and give us simpler lives.
Perhaps we should simply: stop.
Last week, for her birthday, I followed Hope to Galveston and she took us to the shore. We looked out to the Gulf. We talked. We thought about our children and our families. We planned ways to help our community and school. She pointed out to the horizon and I knew peace. We were looking as far as we could and helping as many as we knew. The stream stopped, swallowed up by the Gulf and the wine dark sea.
If you feel turmoil, then stop reading current things. Get an old book. I recommend Brothers Karamazov for right now. Think. Do what you can. See as much beauty as possible: follow Hope as she points to the horizon where the Good God dwells who has the omnipotence to match omniscience. All will be well.