Here comes the new disaster
Here comes the end of days
Next up the sweet hereafter
We’ll tell you all about it after this commercial break
Stay tuned for scary monsters
Watch out for rising tides
But first a word from sponsors
Might be a mess but it’s a hell of a good time
These are the lyrics to the song “New Disaster” released this year by a famous Canadian rock band who has been around since the late ’80s. It captures the feeling of what it is like to listen to popular American news stations today. Networks on all sides have long understood how fear can be capitalized, and it shows today more than ever. That is why we see and experience so much anger in the media (not just social media, but mainstream news stations). Anger is referred to as a “secondary emotion,” meaning that it tends to cover up more vulnerable feelings like fear, hurt, or shame. We do not like to feel vulnerable, so it is much easier to express anger than these other emotions.
Perhaps the worst part about this is the way it has been turning people against one another. The ease with which we can now share information in such depersonalized ways certainly hasn’t helped the cause. It undermines the practice of respectful dialogue. Years ago, conversations always occurred in the context of face-to-face relationships. Our mirror neurons would fire up, we received visual feedback from the listener, we would listen to a real-time response, and we would quickly think of ways to deliver our next message in ways that might protect the type of relationship we wanted to have with those listening. Now we are so out of practice that when we meet someone face-to-face, sometimes we fear that the only way to protect the relationship is to avoid certain topics altogether.
And yet, we need to familiarize ourselves with these issues and to engage with them in appropriate, loving ways. Many of us try to avoid the news altogether, but it helps us stay current with the state of the world and society’s orientation to it. The Living Word that we serve is always active, working in the midst of brokenness and tragedy to bring about good. Nothing will ultimately stop God’s plan from success. And the plan since the beginning –from Adam to Abraham, to Jesus and his Body–is for humans, aligned with God, to bless the world. In order to do so, we need to stay current. We need to see the fear, the pain, the tragedy, and the lies so that we can partner with God to be the salt and the light, embodying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We need to know the world, and we need to know what God wants to do in it.
ACTION: Take some time to reflect on your anger. What is behind it? Are there other, more vulnerable emotions there as well? Express the vulnerability to God. Remember that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). What does it mean to trust God in our current times? You may take this a step further by considering folks in your own life who think differently than you. More likely than not, they are experiencing some vulnerability as well. Ask the Lord how you can draw from the confidence He has given you in order to be a blessing to them in the days to come.
For further consideration: Emotionally Healthy Discipleship: How Do We Lead Through Extreme Political Divisiveness?