Saturday, March 3, 2012

Turning Off the News to Keep My Lenten Discipline

My Lenten discipline:  to give up worry.  So far, it's been going well.  But last night, I almost hit a snag.

I got in the car in time to hear a week in the news kind of NPR show.  The commentators were talking about Iran, and seemed rather sure that the situation would escalate; the word "war" was used.  And then, the show ended, and the top of the hour newscast came on with updates about deadly tornadoes.

I turned the radio off.  I practiced deep breathing.  I said a prayer for everyone who was in the path of dangerous weather.  I prayed for all the people who are making important decisions about the future of our country.

It's been a strange week where old white men talk in histrionic terms about women's birth control.  I understand why as a nation we're not in agreement about abortion, but birth control?  Really???!!!  We haven't already settled this issue.

I could take the feminist road and talk about these old white men who aren't talking about condoms.  But I can't help but notice that all these increasingly ugly/nasty shouting matches about women's fertility are distracting our attention away from the Middle East, which may be about to get really nasty.

We may look back to this time period with nostalgia, that time when gas was still below $5 a gallon, when we had the leisure to have melodramatic arguments about birth control.

Thinking about the national news gives me insight into how to handle my tendency to worry and fret on a smaller level.  When it comes to national politics, I tend not to worry, even though I am influenced by the news.  But it's clear to me that I have very little influence over Obama's decision about how to handle Iran.

Likewise, I really do not control the decisions of the individuals in my life, even though it may seem like I do.  I can have some influence, but in the end, the decisions that others make are really not up to me.   The idea that I can control others is an illusion, and the sooner I can let go of that, the better off I'll be.

But it's important to realize the actions that I can take.  I can try to understand why people are making the choices that they are.  I can protect myself, if need be; I'm thinking more of national issues here--now is not the time to go into debt to buy a gas guzzler of a car.  I can pray as others make decisions.  I can avoid some situations that make me anxious.

It's an easy action to turn off the radio at the end of the day.  I wonder what other easy actions I could be taking to help me with my Lenten discipline.

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