We are always getting ready to live but never living. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the first things to greet me this morning, besides three very hungry cats, was this story from the Associated Press about Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram burning a village, killing 86 people including children. A survivor, hiding in a tree, said he could hear the children screaming as they died in the flames. A triple bombing claimed by Daesh killed 45 in Damascus.
Business Insider reports that nine US citizens are among 33 people being held by Saudi Arabia on terrorism charges. There are no fewer than five different stories this morning detailing the precarious state of the global economy, especially in China where people are beginning to sneak large amounts of cash out of the country. Britain’s largest lender has imposed a hiring and pay freeze amid economic concerns. Tensions between China and the US continue to mount in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, everyone living in the Midwest is bracing for severe storms that threaten blizzards in the North and West and severe thunderstorms in the South and East. At the same time, all eyes are on Iowa today as people there caucus in the first official act of the 2016 presidential election. The outcome of today’s vote could seriously impact who is still running tomorrow.
No one ever said that living is easy; we don’t expect it to be so. At the same time, however, no one told us that living was going to be so incredibly frightening. Even as I’m sitting here writing, Kat read to me a story of a man who, fearing that there might be a shooter at the movie theater, carried his own weapon to the show, whereupon he accidentally shot another person in the shoulder. Even when fleeing our fears, living is fraught with danger.
Add to everything else the fact that this is a Monday and one might question whether it is even safe to get out of bed.
All my life, and probably all of yours, we have been told we should be living our lives to the fullest. While that platitude sounds good, how we define a “full” life is a matter of great subjectivity and the nature of one’s pursuit of that “full” life can introduce one to some rather severe circumstances threatening your very existence, not to mention severely diminishing how “full” one’s state of living might be.
For example, I know some truly wonderful, giving people who have dedicated their lives to helping better the living conditions of people in third world countries. While the lack of basic resources makes those situations difficult, they feel their lives are fulfilled in helping others. What we’ve seen in recent years, however, is that terrorist groups, specifically Boko Haram, targeting NGOs and aid workers with bombs and brutal killings. Terrorists are only able to control out of fear and the preventing anyone from providing help or assistance keeps that fear level high. Just wanting to help people can make one a target.
Even people who are simply trying to eke out a modest living and prepare for old age with moderate investments have reason to fear. China arrested 21 people in a $7.6 billion Ponzi scheme this morning. US investors, again mostly individuals saving for retirement, have been victims of similar schemes as well, such as the Bernie Madoff scheme uncovered a couple of years ago.
I realize that this is typically the point in the article where I’m supposed to offer encouragement, give a “go-get-em” conclusion that encourages everyone to stand up, take the bull by the horns, stare down the serpent, and claim dominance over one’s life. I’m not going to do that this morning, though, because it’s just not realistic. There are things in and around our lives which we legitimately need to fear. Everything does not work out for good. Life is not a bowl of cherries nor a box of chocolates. Sorry, but sometimes all we get is a box of rocks.
Yes, we need to respond to life’s dangers with determination and aggressive action. Cowering in a corner doesn’t help matters at all. But it’s difficult to stand up and face an enemy one can’t see coming, and for many of the dangers we face there’s no advance warning system. When one gets on an airplane, there can be no absolute guarantee that it won’t blow up somewhere over Michigan. While the odds are in your favor, the danger is still there and there’s not a lot, if anything, one can do to prevent whatever is going to happen. Winter storm Kayla? Yeah, go ahead and “stand up” to that blizzard. Buy all the milk and bread. That won’t stop the snow and the wind.
Living is frightening. Dangers are real. The best I can offer is to be your friend as we face the challenges together. Maybe we’ll make it, maybe we won’t. Either way, know that we’ll always be for you.
Good luck, and good living.