Felled by a virus that literally knocked the wind out of me, last week I was easy prey for that trio of muggers who go by the names of Fear, Uncertainty, and Dread. And my goodness, didn't they have an unending supply of ammunition? Running on "alternate facts" and executive orders, social media and news services exploded with tweets, images, headlines, and sound bites.
At times I felt the sting of loss; not just of my world but the world. I grieved the loss of a bright, hopeful future for my children. At times I felt a prickling of fear shiver through me, body and soul. But then other voices emerged in the media, voices of well-reasoned commentary and astute observation. Then people stepped up to help those in need of shelter, of comfort, of hope. These words and actions did much to reassure me that there is wise, humane leadership in this old world after all; leadership that will call out injustice and not turn a blind eye.
This morning I awoke to read of the deadly attack at a mosque in Quebec. I grieve again. I will steer clear of the sensationalism that peppers social media and fuels fear. I will wait for the facts to emerge and in the meantime do what I can to be of comfort to others.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, ©1952.
©2017 April Hoeller