I don’t know about you but I’ve reached my limit over the past weeks with social media. The amount of hate, fear-mongering, shouting down, stereotyping, passive aggressiveness, and mocking I have seen in just a couple weeks has been enough to put me off logging into Facebook and Twitter for months to come.
As I search for peace in a world that has become highly divisive and loud, I am pretty sure there are others out there who are doing the same. So, I thought I would share with you some of the things I have come up with.
1. Take time to pause, to pray.
Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world. — Thomas Merton
In times of high anxiety, very few people take the time to pause before responding to others. This pause is not a matter of seconds. It is a matter of hours. In order to pause and reflect before responding to others in a Christ-like way, we need to pray. The more anxious we are, the more time we should set aside to pray. If everyone took just a half hour to pray every day, it would change the world.
2. Get coffee with someone who thinks differently.
If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
— Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Most of us know at least one person (hopefully more) who thinks differently than we do when it comes to politics and religion. Most of us probably know and love people who have views we find repulsive. Snag that person the next time you see them and invite them out. Talk to them. Hear them out. You may not come to agreement on everything but you will walk away with more understanding, more compassion. And our world needs more of that. (Personally, I don’t think this usually works well online, where there is too much room for misunderstanding.)
3. Be the “light of the world” (Mt 5:14).
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are called to do everything in a Christian way. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). These scriptural commands remain valid regardless of whether we are anonymously commenting online or responding to a relative who expresses opinions we disagree with this Thanksgiving. Love those you hate. Be the light, online and in real life — whether it is by speaking up for the vulnerable, volunteering for a cause you care about, or just by making someone laugh.
4. Ask God to reveal the source of your wounds.
He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. — Luke 10:34
We all have wounds. And they affect how we respond to current events, the people in our lives, and people online. When I react to something with high anxiety, fear, or anger, I ask God to show me why. He often will remind me of an event in my past that has affected my emotional reaction to others. Knowing what is happening does not prevent my reaction, but it calms it. Then I ask God to anoint my wounds with oil and bind them as the Good Samaritan did for the wounded man on the side of the road. Pray, “Good Samaritan, heal the wounds of my heart so that I may be a source of healing for others.” No one is too broken to experience God’s healing touch.
5. Find time for silence.
Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth. — Pope Benedict XVI
As human beings, we need silence to become people of depth, people who can hear the voice of God. What does this mean in our media-drenched world? It means that sometimes we need to make room for silence in our lives and take breaks from those things that distract us. This Sunday, Advent begins and I will be away from Facebook and Twitter to get my bearings and to find more silence. This is my way of bringing more silence into my life. What will yours be this Advent?
How have you found peace in your life in recent weeks?
What do you do to remind yourself that God is in charge?
Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.