Although this will appear in the September magazine I am writing it in August. August used to be known as the silly season, a time when who could eat the most pies or who could dance for the longest time topped the headlines in the newspapers, but this last month has been terrible and, much as we would like to, we haven’t been able to shut out the news from the Middle East and Africa. The news has invaded our homes and our hearts and we feel sorrowful and helpless. It is unlikely to improve in the near future and because there is so little that we can do it takes strength and will to overcome compassion fatigue.
My husband has a habit of keeping the television on most of the time even if he is not in the room. The default channel is News 24. The other day hearing the news for the third or fourth time I asked him to change the channel or to turn it off. I said I couldn’t stand it any longer. The news was terrible and there was nothing I could do about it. His response was “Where is God in all this?” And I had to say “I don’t know, I can’t answer your question, I just don’t know.” I could have gone into the idea of free will and people disobeying God, but even to me that answer rings hollow in the face of the current situation.
Then the other night I found a little booklet in my bedside drawer. I cannot remember where it came from but since it was entitled “Ten Keys to Happiness” I thought I might give it a go. The first key was “Choice”. What follows is part of what it said, “If you want to change your life, change your thoughts. You can choose a life of peace, joy and happiness. You can decide to stop being affected by the outer world and, instead, to affect the world around you with your peace.” Wise words and even Jesus took time out and so should we, but we also need to engage with the world but to do this we need to protect ourselves from over exposure. So let us listen to the news only once a day. Let us find time to search out a piece of good news each day too and share it with those around us and let us never cease to pray, Holy Father God, give us the strength and the will to overcome compassion fatigue. Show us how to maintain a healthy balance between our own needs, the needs of our immediate family and the needs of the wider world, help us to hold in our hearts and minds all who are suffering daily lifting them to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.