I Feel Overwhelmed These Days

As we enter the new year, we’re in a mess. So I decided to write about what I see. Maybe that way, we can connect and help each other

I’ve had a lot of trouble focusing for a while now

The only way I can describe it is to say that it’s like I’m living in two parallel worlds: one normal and one upside down.

In one, I’m a normal person who cleans my room, eats meals, sees my extended family when I can, goes for walks, makes lists of what I need to do next, and so forth.

In the other, I’m trying to get used to the fact that the world as we know it might burn up in 20 or 30 years unless we start drastically changing the way we live.

That’s if we can survive the current U.S. presidency, which seems bent on destruction for the sake of wealth and power.

And Canada has its own groups who seem to be focused on creating chaos and taking money from the poor to give to the rich.

Not to mention the numerous countries with nuclear weapons they might decide to use at any time. And countries where minorities are being bullied and even executed for opposing governments that want to be dictatorships.

Plus, racism and white supremacy are becoming more open in Canada and the United States than they’ve been since the first laws opposing slavery, and it’s unreal to me how many people see others as “less valuable” than themselves.

This picture below isn’t of me, but it accurately portrays how I’ve often felt over the last four years.

Bad (people*) need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good (people) should look on and do nothing. — John Stuart Mill, 1867

*I’m going to assume Mr. Mill would be okay with my use of “people” instead of “men.” In his day, women’s and children’s voices weren’t commonly heard.

At my core, I’m a fiction writer

But even though I’ve often used fiction to attack things I see as wrong, such as racism and sexual abuse, over the last three or four years, even trying to make up a story felt like escapism. I felt I should be doing something more useful.

But what?

Added to that, from September of 2018 until October of 2019, I was walking through the reality of breast cancer

The only things I could realistically do (aside from eating, trying to get some exercise, and looking after myself health-wise) were to read, watch some TV, and do some jigsaw puzzles (a few pieces at a time).

And think. I couldn’t stop thinking.

I’m been feeling more like myself for a couple of months now. However, I still tend to sit here, trying to focus, but feeling overwhelmed and confused

  • Getting out my fall and winter clothes made me think of the growing number of homeless people, some of whom will freeze to death this winter.
  • Buying new towels seems wrong when there are asylum-seekers languishing in concentration camps where they don’t even have a cot to sleep on.
  • Moon of the Crusted Snowa YA fantasy I picked up because a lot of people I follow on Twitter were talking about it — made me wonder how we could survive during climate change. Like, practically. What would we have to do?
  • Running water into my reusable glass bottle reminds me that there are that there are First Nation people in our country, as well as people in many other locations around the world, who don’t have healthy water to drink. And meanwhile, our water is being needlessly used up by companies who sell it in plastic bottles that just cause further waste.
  • Working on a new blog post for my LoveChild memoir, which is about my life as an adopted child, reminds me of abortion and the Roe vs Wade debate that’s still ongoing. Many Republicans and Canadian Conservatives want to make all abortions illegal while at the same time limiting access to sex education and birth control, in spite of the harm that will do to women and girls.
  • Editing a mystery story I wrote a few years ago, which involves the dead wife of a mayor, reminds me that the President of the United States, a country that in the past has prided itself on being a world leader, has been documented as having lied more than 15,000 times while president. How do I know this? Because of investigative fact-checkers working for the Washington Post and because of fellow Canadian Daniel Dale, who worked previously for The Toronto Star and is now fact-checking for CNN. And the president isn’t the only politician lying. We’ve had lots of that in Canada, too. And I wonder what happened to truth. When did it die?
  • I look at our tiny back yard garden, which is filled from spring to fall with perennials and some annuals, and am reminded that acres of trees in the Amazon basin have been intentionally burned, resulting in the loss of not only the lives of people, animals, and plants, but also the loss of vital oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • I hear about the devastation in the lives of migrants in the United States, how people who are legally seeking asylum — people just like me who aren’t as fortunate as I’ve been, and who are running from violence and certain death — are being locked in terrible camps where they’re being tortured, sexually abused, and even killed. And how young children are being ripped from their families and even being given away for adoption. How could any sane person think this is okay? Why isn’t everyone up in arms about this?
  • And every week there seems to be another gun massacre, typically in the U.S., but not always. And I see evangelical Christians saying that the abundance of guns isn’t the problem, but it’s the lack of prayer in schools. Seriously? What world are those people living in? The bulk of gun massacres are being carried out by right-wing white men, many of whom would call themselves Evangelical Christians. And far-right white supremacy is rampant in many coutries.

And I realize that I’d be crazy NOT to feel overwhelmed

I realize I need to tell you up front that I consider myself an evangelical (small e) Christian, but I am not, nor have I ever been, an Evangelical (capital E) Christian (what some call Fundamentalist).

In my opinion, what’s happening in the government in the United States is horrible. The president has been impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But the fact that many Evangelical Christians not only support this president, but seem to venerate, and, in some cases, idolize him, makes me wonder what on earth is happening.

Yes, I know there are people like this in Canada, too

  • People who believe they know God’s will better than anyone else.
  • People who believe black and brown people are somehow less “human” and therefore of less value than white people.
  • People who think it’s okay to lie and cheat as long as you “win.”
  • People who call themselves “pro-life” but could care less about what happens to the babies after they’re born.
  • People who believe women are intrinsically worth less than men and should be silent unless asked to speak.
  • People who absolve rapists and abusers while degrading and causing further abuse to the victims.
  • People who hate those who are non-binary, and refuse to give them equal rights.
  • People who won’t listen to anyone who disagrees with them.
  • People who seek power regardless of the cost to others.

I’ll be honest, I’m scared

I don’t know what kind of world this is going to be in ten years. Okay, maybe just one year.

And some days, my brain gets stuck in a loop that goes over and over these and other issues, and I get mired in helplessness. What can I possibly do to make a difference? Especially while I still have low energy from the last year of breast cancer.

I feel overwhelmed.

But then I remember what I believe

And Who I believe.

Two passages from the New Testament come to my mind.

This verse, as far as I can tell, pretty well sums up everything.

‘Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?’

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:36–40, NCV)

And this is the second. Again, it seems very clear about what is right and what isn’t.

The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshipping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these.

I warn you now as I warned you before: Those who do these things will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. (Galatians 5:19–23, NCV)

Ugliness isn’t new. Neither is fear of the unknown

I remember growing up during the Cold War.

Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe at the UN. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Vietnam. Bomb shelters.

Walking to school after lunch just after hearing on the radio that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Seeing my teacher shed tears as she told us the President of the United States was dead.

The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. The Civil Rights Movement. Richard Nixon. Watergate.

In Canada, the FLQ, Residential Schools, the Pickton murders, more than 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women….

I also remember that I prefer to face reality rather than to pretend things aren’t happening. To know the truth. To deal with things the way they are and not the way I wish they were.

Yesterday, Christianity Today posted an article that says President Trump needs to be removed from office.

I couldn’t agree more. I’d include his enablers as well.

And as I read that article, I’m reminded of lines in the Christmas carol, “The Little Drummer Boy.”

I have no gift to bring…
That’s fit to give our king…

He had no gifts to bring. All he had was his drum.

Shall I play for you…
Mary nodded

I realize that my own “drum,” the one thing I have at hand right now, is my ability to write.

Thankfully, writing doesn’t take a ton of physical energy. In fact, getting some of my thoughts out of my head and into a post will probably give me energy.

So I guess this is my New Year’s resolution. I will write about some of the things that have been on my mind over the last few years. At the very least, I won’t continue to look on, feeling overwhelmed, but doing nothing.

Funny. As I was about to publish this, I remembered the quotation below, which I’ve often mentioned during writing workshops, and have even used as part of my email signature.

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” — Martin Luther

Writer. Author. Dreamer. I tend to see the big picture and the steps along the way. Plus I try to encourage others to become everything God created them to be.

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