Lately, I’ve been feeling rather unsettled – or perhaps anxious is a better word for it. It’s like I haven’t been able to breathe deeply. In fact, there are moments when I catch myself unknowingly holding my breath, like I’ve forgotten how to breathe, just for a moment. It’s as if I’m anticipating something, but uncertain of what it is or if it’s good or bad or both. All I know is that I can feel change coming, or perhaps it’s already happening, and it terrifies me. It’s like when you’re standing on a beach near the shore with your feet sunk in the sand, waiting for the next wave to come and crash around your ankles, but you see the wave coming from a distance and it seems to be growing, and for a split second you consider running away because this wave looks like it’s going to be a lot bigger than the last one. So here I am, caught in that split second, holding my breath, anticipating the next wave of change and uncertainty to come crashing over me.
Part of me just wants to run away and hide. But another part of me knows that I must stay.
In case none of that makes sense, in less metaphorical terms, let me just rewind a bit and explain to you my dilemma and why I’m wrestling with this tension.
First, I must explain that I am a sucker for personality tests (Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram are my top two go to’s, but I will admit that I may be a little too over eager to take any “Which Disney Character are you?” quiz I come across.) In any case, for anyone interested, I am an INFP and Peacemaker (9). For those who have no idea what any of that means, it basically means that I just want everyone to get along! The more complicated part is that I also want everyone to feel like their opinion is heard and valued. While that all may sound great, on the flipside, a negative aspect of being a 9 is that I sometimes get too overwhelmed or discouraged by the issues surrounding me. When that happens, I start to withdraw and settle for my own personal “peace of mind”. Instead of actively engaging in the issues and seeking ways to help navigate a peaceful solution, I start to avoid the issues all together.
Which brings me back to this tension I’ve been wrestling with. Long story short, as this new year of 2016 began, I noticed that I often avoided social media and paid little attention to the news. For a while I had prided myself in this detachment, wary of being addicted to my phone or social media as most millennials seem to be. But as this year began, I realized that my detachment had reached the point of self inflicted ignorance. Accordingly, for the past month or so, I have tried to be better about staying engaged and educated about current issues.
This, however, brings me to that unsettled or anxious feeling I was talking about earlier. In trying to be more aware of what is going on in this crazy world we live in, my peace of mind has certainly been disrupted. And everyday, in the split second before I decide to scroll through Twitter or the News app (thank you Apple), I feel the urge to run and hide and avoid the wave of information and issues and opinions that is just out there on the web waiting for me. I know that I will get overwhelmed and frustrated. I know that my heart will ache for the insane injustices that still exist in this world today. And I want to avoid it all. I want to just revert back into my own little world and maintain some peace of mind, but I also know that I can’t. I can’t keep avoiding it all, because while having peace of mind may feel nice for a little bit, my heart aches for more than just my own peace – it aches for the peace of others: friends, neighbors, our country, our world.
Moreover, I was recently reminded of a quote (I can’t remember who from) that there can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice. The way I understand this is that justice and peace must go hand in hand, true justice and true peace cannot be achieved otherwise.
Thus, bringing this back to my situation here, I have found that no matter how hard I try to maintain a peace of mind, avoiding or ignoring the issues going on in this world does not lessen their existence and my peace will surely be unsettled when forced to face reality every now and again. Moreover, I am beginning to recognize that as a self proclaimed peacemaker, I have a huge responsibility to actively engage in social justice issue and help navigate ways for people to pursue justice peacefully, otherwise true justice will not be achieved.
So, while my peace of mind has be disrupted, leaving me unsettled and anxious, I am trying my best to continue staying informed, even minimally, and when I work up enough energy and courage, I also hope to become more engaged in the issues, offering a voice of peace in the pursuit of justice. I am realizing that maybe this unsettled feeling isn’t such a bad thing. Sure I may still catch myself holding my breath in anticipation of what’s to come, but I also know that I must fight the urge to run away. I know now that I no longer want to settle for just my personal peace of mind because I deeply desire to see true peace accomplished in this world. Although I am wary that I will get tired of constantly wrestling with this unsettled feeling, I have hope that if I can catch even just a glimpse of peace and justice working hand in hand, it would make all of this worth it.