I have a problem. I am an eternal optimist.
Many would say that’s not exactly a problem, but it is when you are trying the wrestle with the problems that plague our Earth.
Floods, bombs, poverty, rape, exploitation, war…
“How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”
From my little square of the world, how can I help?
Two weeks ago my husband asked why I only write about positive things on my blog. “You never once talked about Westgate,” he said, referring to the terrorist lockdown of a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, the city where I was born.
“And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love.”
I think about that day at Westgate all the time. That morning my cousins and my aunt who live in Nairobi got up and got ready to go to lunch at that mall. As fate would have it at the last minute they decided against it.
But had they decided to go they would have been hurled into the chaos as machine gun-wielding extremists showered the upscale mall with bullets, sparing only the children and the Muslims.
How could I not think about it?
The reason it’s been hard to write about Westgate – or any of the terrible news I watch every day of how humans continue to terrorize, mame, brutalize, and kill each other – is because I just don’t understand it.
The first time I realized that people hurt each other I was about 7 or 8 years old. I felt a huge knot in my stomach and I thought I was going to throw up. To be honest I still feel that way to this day. I am not desensitized. I feel sick everytime I hear another terrible event on the news. Or hear about animals being tortured, or children being sexually abused.
I ache and I cry and I just ask God, “Why?”
What has led us to this?
“Oh where do we begin? The rubble or our sins?”
As humans we must realize our connection to each other and to this Earth. The Buddha says the sun, the sky, the oceans, the earth, the animals, and the wind — we are all connected. Our actions affect everything around us.
Why do we continue these sins?
These sins- and the glorification of these sins through our media and movies- have to stop.
The other day I turned on the TV and Investigation Discovery was on, or what my husband likes to call “Murder Porn.”
Wendy Williams was promoting a show about how women killed their significant others. They marketed it as, “perfect for Valentine’s Day.”
Really? Encourage women to kill their loved ones on Valentine’s Day?
How sick is that?
I used to watch the news all the time and I used to watch that “murder porn” on the ID channel but then I realized, maybe that stuff seeps into your brain and starts to tell you it’s okay if people are murdered, and it’s cool if people are tortured, and maybe one day.. It wouldn’t be too terrible to just cut someone with a knife.
No, it’s not ok! It’s never ok. The media is just as evil as the killer with that knife, or the terrorists in that mall. They are practically salivating and feeding off this news. They love it. They live for it. That makes them guilty too.
“But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?”
I have been wrong to close my eyes to all this. I have been wrong to not talk about it or engage with it on my blog.
As much as I hate to admit it, my husband was right. Why do I not talk about it?
It bothers me. I should talk about it.
And if I close my eyes it won’t go away.
But I can say out loud that I want it to stop. I don’t believe in it. I won’t be part of it.
My advice is to remember yourself, remember others, remember children, remember animals, and remember the Earth. We must practice ahimsa and learn to live in peace, no hate. It starts within ourselves and then we can help others.
We are small but we can change the world if we work together.
Meanwhile I will tackle the eternal question:
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?