2011/365/078: Our New “Normal” Is In Our Hands

Yesterday, I said that this would be a three-part series; I lied. I’m cutting it off at two parts. Everything I want to say about this topic (right now) is in this post. Tomorrow, I’m moving on to new things. 🙂

This question about what is “normal” in our lives stems from my daughter’s reactions when the space shuttle Columbia exploded as it was returning to Earth on February 1, 2003. She had already experienced so much tragedy and witnessed our reactions to it, that this latest “breaking news” was nothing more than a “Huh,” before she tuned into the Cartoon Network.

It’s not that she is insensitive or uncaring; when this kind of thing keeps happening, though, we learn to govern our reactions accordingly. For her, and perhaps for many more of us, we save those dramatic reactions for incidents that happen extremely close to home.

The news pours into us instantaneously from around the globe. We have to do something to protect ourselves from living in a perpetual state of shock and disbelief.

This concerns me on multiple levels. We want to know the news as it is happening, but the care and the effort to help don’t reside deeply within us anymore. We get the updates from our newsfeeds, and then, just a couple of clicks later, we’re playing Angry Birds or checking the times of the movies showing in 3D down the street.

I say this with as much respect as I can possibly muster: If you want a little distraction from reality, there’s an App for that.

And the trouble is, we’re App-ing our lives to death. Gone is the face-to-face, the focus on simpler living, the intent to help others in ways that extend beyond our “Huh”‘s.

So what do we do about this?

Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist for the ages, says, “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

I think we’re spending too much time online, on Facebook, on Twitter, on every other social networking network as an escape. I think we’re refreshing our Facebook News Feed constantly as a way to feel good. I don’t know how anybody can look at the footage coming out of Japan and feel too good about anything that’s superficial or without purpose or meaning.

These are hard times. Our communities need us, our nation needs us, the world needs us. We can’t continue to have all of the conveniences of instant news, communication, and services without accepting the responsibility to assist those in need in our new global community. If we want the instant updates about the events that are happening around the world (good and bad), we better be prepared to be there for these places when those events turn tragic.

Don’t turn away from the footage, the reports, the needs. Allow yourself to understand that these are our problems and concerns, too. We wanted the global society, and now that we have it, we have to be accountable for it.

Here are THREE ways you can help right now.

1. Donate to the Red Cross. You can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Gifts to the American Red Cross will support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

2. Start a fund drive at your school, church, organization, club, or sports team and donate the proceeds to the Red Cross. In fact, each of these groups should have ongoing philanthropic efforts, and decisions should be made monthly who receives a certain amount. This would slow down the “crisis burnout” that is common when we are asked repeatedly for donations for Haiti, Japan, and other places in need.

3. Educate yourself and others with information about the situation in Japan. Don’t avoid it by playing another hour of Farmville; turn in to it, know it, and tell others. It will improve our international sensitivity and compassion greatly.

Let’s make this the new Normal for our kids. Let’s show them that we can enjoy the benefits of living globally while taking the responsibility to help our international neighbors in ways that have never before been possible.


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