Last week, I purposefully stayed off social media because I had already heard that there was a video floating around of a young man punching a dog on the side of the head. It really hurts my heart to be witness to that sort of thing and so I reasoned with myself that if I did not watch that video and avoided all the commentary on Facebook then I could avoid that "punch in the gut" feeling that would probably traumatize me into ruining my already fledgling diet plan.
But when I saw my son later on in the evening he was ready to discuss this video of the young man punching the dog. He said to me, "Mom, when I saw that, it hurt my stomach." I had to explain to him that pain in his stomach was his conscience telling him what he was watching was wrong.
God didn't make human beings to torture and kill other living things. When you witness this being done, on purpose or accidentally, it is traumatic to the soul.
The next day, I went back to work, where this video was still the hot topic and try as I might to avoid the conversation, it still infiltrated my surroundings. Two days later a friend of mine told me that the dog was dead. Friday night, at a cookout, my oldest son and niece told me that three individuals had been arrested for the death of this animal. Eventually, everybody at the cookout joined in the conversation, hoping that the young men received just punishment for such a heinous act of violence.
So, that night, as I sat in my vehicle with a plastic spoon and a pint of Blue Bunny Double Fudge I pondered on the fact that despite my best efforts of avoiding this conversation, the end result was the same. Subject matter that I did not want to recognize, acknowledge or deal with still was able to infiltrate my home and family and affect me personally.
Then I began thinking about all the times I turn off the news when there is a mass shooting "in that town" or a natural disaster on the other end of the world. Even though my intention is to protect my mental health by preventing an overload of information by ignoring these horrible things that happen, is it really working? Would it be better to lean into the pain of other people's hurt and share the burden of their pain? What would that do to me as a person? Would it make me angry and cynical? Would it enrage me enough to stop sending prayers and well wishes to people suffering and make me roll up my sleeves and help others create policy and change? Would I need to hire a therapist and buy stock in Blue Bunny?
I am still on the fence about the answer to all those questions.
What I did decide, though, was choosing to ignore events that happen based solely on the fact that I do not want to invite the trauma into my life, didn't work for me. The information had a way of seeping into my life in a way that I had much less control of the outcome. I resolved that night that I would make a better effort at being informed of other's hardships and try to understand how I could help in a bigger way.
……… And that is how I ended up in Cumberland, Kentucky sitting with the miners as they protested three weeks of no pay by preventing any coal from leaving Appalachia……