Do you ever find yourself glancing at a headline on facebook as you scroll down your newsfeed, only to suddenly rush back up, thinking, ‘did I just read that correctly?’ I find myself in that predicament on a regular basis, or at least I have done recently, with headlines about Richard Dawkins saying that Down’s syndrome babies should be aborted before birth, reminding people that Robin Williams didn’t die ‘from’ suicide, and of course the news that the man responsible for beheading a journalist in the name of Islam was from Britain.
Sometimes the headlines I have to re-read are not shocking in and of themselves, it’s just that in my speed to scroll down the page I didn’t catch everything that was written and so the sentence didn’t make sense. But other times I find myself just stunned into insensibility by the shear…. I don’t know what the word is… Idiocy? Crassness? Brutality? Horror? …. of the world that the article portrays.
It was the news of the shocking and horrific actions by the British Muslim man, beheading a US journalist, that drove an instinct in me as a Christian, a follower of a supposedly peace-loving religion that’s been corrupted too many times by hatred and violence (think the Spanish Inquisition, the IRA and Westbro Baptist church as 3 such examples), to want to reach out to Islamic peace campaigners and say, ‘don’t worry, there’s one Christian here at least who doesn’t blame all of you’, or something of that nature. I wanted to just make it clear that I didn’t tar everyone with the same brush, that I knew that the vast majority of Muslims would condemn this horrific action as vehemently as anyone else would. But, the sad thing is that I just don’t know how to go about making such a statement in any forum where it would matter. Blogs and facebook are my soapbox and it’s too easy for words to become lost in the sea of traffic that pervades internet news.
Facebook is a brilliant tool, a useful website and a way of people from all over the world to connect. Don’t get me wrong, I love it – I spend a great deal of time on it, after all. But have you ever tried to find something you remember reading just last week, and completely failed to locate any reference to the article, thread or comment? Me too. I would love to have some sort of index, topic or search facility installed instead of the most recent crop of updates or the ‘top story’ rubbish, but I guess that such things are deemed too useful to be included!
We are reaching the time of year, of course, when the internet, written word, television and all things ‘indoors’ play a far bigger part in people’s lives than they have for the last 3 months…. or at least we are here in Scotland. I know that down in the south of England, plants, trees, gardens, the weather and Mother Nature in general are still firmly stuck in ‘summer’ mode (as facebook photographs from friends keep reminding me!). But here there are the first stirrings of yellowing leaves on the trees, the weather is inclement (although after the beautiful summer we’ve had I don’t feel really able to complain about a bit of wind and rain), and autumn is just a hair’s breadth away from knocking on the door. And, of course, it is the time of year when couples the world over engage in the bi-annual discussion about duvets.
I have yet to meet a couple who both see eye to eye on air temperatures vs. duvet togs. I generally run on ‘hot’ and it would have to be seriously cold outside for me to want anything thicker than a 4.5 tog duvet. But my other half would, if he was able, put something of Arctic-thermal proportions on the bed whenever the temperature dips below 18 degrees. So this year, in a break from tradition, chickened out of the argument (sorry, discussion!) and got a single quilt each instead.
And it’s sitting here in bed, with my thin duvet pooled around my feet and my partner hiding, bundled up, under his thicker covering, that I find myself wondering about the news, about the sadness of stories that make me feel frustrated either about my inability to act to help others, my inability to find a way of offering the proverbial ‘olive branch’, or my inability to change minds, hearts or attitudes no matter how hard I try.
At least together my partner and I managed to keep the peace over the duvet issue, which I guess is a victory of sorts. But please excuse me if I keep my celebrations restrained right now.