What is peace? Often our quest for it seems illusory or fading. We run after it. We pursue it. But often it lays always just beyond the reach of our fingertips. Peace has two basic definitions: 1) a freedom from disturbance; or tranquility; 2) a state or period of no war, or a cessation of war. And in our information age, news about the second definition can often affect our ability to maintain the first definition.
TMI. That three-letter text and Twitter abbreviation for Too Much Information; a concept first mentioned by the prophet Daniel about three thousand years ago, “-(at) the time of the end-information shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) A hundred years ago, information traveled slowly. Telegraphs sent news to papers, which distributed news to the world. Three hundred years ago, it was slower. Couriers took information, like decrees and letters, taking weeks or months for the knowledge to spread. Five hundred years ago, ships traveled the world for a year or more exploring, thus delivering news very slowly. But today, sadly, we are often bombarded with so many negative events, that we can become burdened, overwhelmed, and depressed with our own ability to make any difference at all.
One example was the kidnapping of two-hundred and seventy-six girls from a boarding school in Nigeria by the militant terrorist group known as Boko Haram. For weeks and months, the world championed the cause of these girls and their abduction in 2014. Social media lit up with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls! Celebrities and political influencers took up the cause. But before even a few of the girls were rescued or released over the next several years, the hubbub died down and the girls were forgotten by the world at large. To this day, many are still in captivity.
So, what can we do? How can I preserve the tranquility of my mind while being attacked by the media for their profit with the sensationalized horrors from around the globe? I can only share my coping strategies. One thing is that I have stopped “listening” to the news. News channels purposefully make every scoop sound like a warning of disaster, even if it was already an alert, every hour for the whole day. By choosing to read the news, I get to set the atmosphere for dealing with the difficult information. Secondly, I can immediately send up prayers for those involved in terror or natural disaster or war. Finally, I can champion the causes close to my heart. I can bring awareness of things happening in the Congo through my Twitter account and in my blogs and novels.
One Congolese proverb says that “if everyone spits in the bean pot, then no one has to haul water to cook the beans.” (Our equivalent: Many hands make light work.) I may not be able to make a difference in all areas of the globe or even in all of Congo, but I can spit into that bean pot that I find most valuable to me. I can make a difference in the security of some people. I can champion some causes. I can support and feed some families. And so, can you. We can preserve our peace and tranquility despite the lack of peace around the world. We can!