By Pastor Paula Burchill
One of my kids looked at his phone the other day and informed me that over 200 people were killed in a mosque in Egypt. Of course I was devastated to hear of yet another terror attack, but the fact that I heard it from my child who is in middle school also devastated me.
I guess I just hate to think of children being inundated with so much bad news. I did talk to him about alerts on the phone and that maybe he should turn off news alerts, but he told me he likes knowing what is going on in the world. My problem is that the only alerts one seems to get are bad news. And it got me wondering—what are our children thinking growing up hearing seemingly every day about another shooting, another terror attack, another natural disaster?
I am a child of the 80’s [born in 1970] and I remember being very scared of being attacked by Russia. We did drills where we got under our desks. So it isn’t like I was sheltered from bad news as a child. However, it seems a little different today. For one thing, I didn’t have a computer in my hand that alerted me of each next new bad thing. It was one big thing, and we were actually doing something about it. I mean, hiding under a desk might not have saved us from nuclear attack, but at least I don’t remember feeling like there was nothing for me to do.
I think that seems different now. Now, when there is thing after thing after thing to worry about—where can you even begin to know what to do? I worry that our children at the very least are growing up feeling helpless, but at the worst are they becoming cynical? What must they think about the world they are preparing to be adults in?
Years ago, I read an essay that Barbara Kingsolver wrote and she said that she has started to pay less attention to the news in the world. Not that she doesn’t care or pays no attention, but what she can do is she can bring food to a neighbor who is going through a hard time. So she reads her local paper. And responds to the news she can do something about.
I am finding the season of Advent to be particularly pertinent this year for me. Advent is a time of waiting for Christmas, but much more so, it is a time of waiting and longing for Jesus to come again. For our Prince of Peace to bring peace to the world. For our Wonderful Counselor to bring people together, rather than drive them apart. For our Mighty God to put an end to mass shootings and terror attacks. For our Everlasting Father to bring all creation under his wing.
And until that happens? I’m going to try and teach my kids about what they can do. Be a friend. Stand up for the downtrodden. Write a letter to a politician. Pray. And I’m going to bring dinner to a friend in need.