Coping with horror

I don’t mean how does the country deal with terror attacks. I mean how do we cope with news coming onto our screens that contains horrific events.

There have been a number of news items this week which have just been horrible. The suicide of a right-wing activist next to the altar of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. A feminist protest the next day in which a “mock suicide” was staged in the same place in the same cathedral. The continued terror attacks in Iraq – bombing after bombing. And now this ghastly murder on the streets of Woolwich.

How do we cope with hearing these things without becoming brittle? How do we cope with these things without becoming desensitized to the horror of what we see?

There are obvious political moves that are needed, such as the condemnation of those who would make capital out of such horror and try to use it to bring hate to the streets. The resurgence of the far-right, particularly in the south of England is a frightening reality in itself. But how to cope as a human being with hearing stories of horror?

Here’s some ideas for trying to live with it all:

  • Don’t block out the news, try to take it in. But don’t sit listening to the endless repeated loops of 24 hour news stations.
  • Read the opinions of those with whom one does not immediately agree.
  • Know that the answers cannot always be found merely in words and thoughts – music and art and religious practice can be places where answers are to be found.
  • Remember that faith and history teach us that horrific murders have always been part of human experience and remember that this does not excuse them.
  • Try to judge people by their ideals rather than by one’s own fears.
  • Be kind. Use bad news as a reminder to be kind.
  • Pray for the peace of the streets and remember those whose vocation is keeping that peace.
  • Write. Talk. Discuss. Listen. Understand. Act justly.
  • The only acceptable revenge is living well.