Catchy headline, isn’t it? To avoid any confusion, this post is not about Muslims or religion at all. I am still a spiritual Atheist, and it is not about that, either. It is about our perception of the current state of the world. And when I was sitting on my balcony early today, contemplating how to start my next blog post, a guy walked past. By his looks, he was of Northern African origin, and he wore a t-shirt saying: I am a Muslim, don’t panic! Blog headline born!
I came across a few FB posts lately in which people expressed their concern about the world we currently live in. And naturally, I have thought the exact same thing before. Wherever you look, there is terror, amok, danger, threats. Some people worry about their kids and their future in this violent world. And just in time, I read an interesting article: statistically, there was much more terror in Europe in the 1970s and 80s than there is now. The RAF in Germany, the IRA in Ireland, the ETA in the Basque region, to name but a few, carried out much more terrorist attacks than we have today. I remember my mother telling about she was very alarmed by the doings of the RAF, because you never knew where they would attack next.
So what is the difference today? On the one hand, it is the fact, that there are more lone wolf actions today. They are individuals that very often do not belong to an organisation, but claim they do. Or the organisation uses the attacks to claim they do. But much more than this, it is the constant presence of news. While you had to wait for the evening news or the morning newspaper in the last century (brilliant, isn’t it? Last millennium even!), you get bombarded by news every second of the day nowadays. And of course, it is always the latest, the worst, the most threatening.
But is this really the reality we live in (by “we”, I mean Europe, I mean the USA, I mean Australia – the so-called “Western World)? Are you living in fear every second of your day? Media don’t report on the things that don’t happen. Imagine how much calmer you would feel if they did! “Good morning! No terrorist attacks happened in – insert your home town – today! Nobody got killed. There are no traffic jams. Oh, and there are no thunderstorms either!” Or imagine they would report on our daily life circumstances! “Good morning! The sun is shining in – insert your home town – today! Granny M. visited her Grandchildren today – what a fun day it was for her! Pupil D. just bought ice-cream and spilled it all over her white shirt – Mummy will have to do an extra load of washing today! Oh, and citizen A. passed away last night. He was 98 years of age, fit as a fiddle, and still enjoyed regular intercourse with his beloved wife.”
As some of you know, I was away in a clinic in June and July to sort out my back. The German state has this funny thing going where they think it is a lot cheaper to spend their money on keeping me healthy than paying the cost of me not being able to work at all (Capitalism at its best!). So anyway, I was in this clinic. It is not like a hospital where everybody is sick and bound to their beds, but an institution that helps you get your sore bones back on track. Since I was very stressed out after a long period of pain, I decided to use my time off to sort out my head, too. I asked all my friends and family to leave me alone for a while until I reached out to them. And great as they are, they fully understood that I needed some off-time. I also did not watch TV or sign onto the many social networks out there. And it was so peaceful! I did read the news once a day, but not more! And I noticed that my stress level decreased significantly!
After two weeks or so, I started to reach out to my people again. And I took the occasional look at Facebook. Some of the stuff there was entertaining, but some things stressed me out right away again. And then I noticed what it was: It was the constant bad vibes of some people that were bringing me down. We all have these friends whose life is THE hardest, THE most stressful, whose flues are the worst (I SNEEZED THREE TIMES IN A ROW!), and who constantly complain about not sleeping, not having a social life and being oh so stressed. My advice: invest the time you use to post these things to talk to actual friends. Or sleep. Anyways, I am getting carried away. Facebook has this great feature where you can block those people from your news feed. You are still friends with them, but when you want to read their “news”, you specifically have to go to their page. No more flooding with bad news. It took only a few clicks, and I was less stressed. And then I switched the whole thing off again and went to talk to actual people again.
The moral of the whole thing? Yes, you should be concerned. You should be concerned about the ones close to you. Reach out, ask them how they are, how their day was. Be happy when they are just fine. Notice when you are just fine and not only when chaos brings you down. There is evil in the world, no doubt about that. Still I think the risk of getting killed in a car crash on your way to work is much higher than being killed in a terrorist attack. Statistically. Try to be nice to the woman who works at the bakery or to the neighbour you run into on the way to your car. You know what may happen? You might get a smile! Don’t ignore bad news, but try not to forget the good news!
We are human, don’t panic!