Those of us with ready access to various media are aware that we are being bombarded from every side with reports of violence: domestic violence, murders, robberies, suicide bombers, diplomatic spats, war, street protests, sexual abuse and even in nature.
Violence (among humans) has its roots in fear, in hurt, in feelings of being undervalued, in frustration and powerlessness. Violence comes out of hearts that, for many reasons, are deprived of love.
You and I may be blessed with a large amount of freedom from violence, but what we see and hear of it daily does encroach on our minds and hearts threatening to undermine our confidence in goodness. You may be aware of the effects on you of this deluge – anxiety, poor sleep, a diminished capacity to concentrate, increased pessimistic thinking about our world, even a paralysis about how to respond in a positive way. What can we do to protect ourselves from the unhealthy impact of reported violence?
We need to stay in touch with God’s love for us. There are passages from Scripture to pray with that remind us of God’s loving faithfulness and compassion (e.g. Lamentations 3: 22-23; Psalms 103, 107; Romans 8:38-9). We need to reduce the amount of exposure we suffer – there is no need to watch the news every day or click on every phone app news item! As St Paul says, let’s give our thoughts over to things life-giving and beautiful (Phil 4:8).
When we are really touched and hurt by a particularly violent event, we need to bring ourselves to Jesus – perhaps return to a time when we have experienced Jesus’ consolation before, or to the Cross where he hangs.
When we go to bed, we can keep our mind on the sweetest moment of the day, however small.
God is as dismayed by the violence in our world as we are. God experiences it more keenly than any one of us does. Yet God’s promise is to be faithful and to continue to respond with love and life. Let us not forget that.Let us choose to walk with God in Jesus in company with our suffering brothers and sisters. And let us pray for each other.
Let us choose to walk with God in Jesus in company with our suffering brothers and sisters. And let us pray for each other.
Fr Ian Radvan is the director of the Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Melbourne. http://www.campion.asn.au/