On Choosing Our Battles

by Belinda Munoz on March 21, 2011

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My head has been pounding all weekend and no safe amount of Advil can make the ache go away. I hear echoes of my prodigal twin’s voice making pronouncements about how it serves me right for violating my own long-standing no-weekend-internet-clicking policy that I’ve struggled to keep this time around.

Relentless Attacks
Why the self-induced migraine? My little boy has caught yet another stomach virus keeping us holed up indoors while the media circuit explodes with newsworthy tidbits. There’s the election going on in Haiti, a nation which, a year after the quake, is still on a steep climb to recovery. There’s NPR getting de-funded which could mean the elimination of about 9000 U.S. jobs. There’s the disturbing nuclear threat to an already ailing environment looming in the background in the wake of Fukushima. There’s the new substance spill of about 12-mile wide by 100-mile long and looks to be another oil slick spotted off the coast of Louisiana. There’s the Libyan intervention which, at this point so early in the game, is a veritable gray area whether viewed from the atrocity-prevention/human rights advocates side or the practical let’s-fund-our-domestic-interests-first side.

Besieged
Gone are the delusional days of thinking none of these issues could ever affect my safe and cozy existence. The truth is the world has become much smaller and what once was deemed foreign can no longer be contained offshore. What happens at any nuclear reactor site affects all of us. Our interconnectedness is hard to deny at any level. We connect on the same social media outlets. We live on the same planet. We gaze upon the same stars when we marvel at the mysteries of the universe.

Picking My Battles
The news these days may have attacked and defeated my cheery disposition for the time being. Still, I remind myself that, though I may not always have a voice in many fights, I remain able to pick my battles:

  • I can’t do much to speed up the recovery of Haiti, but I can help a few Haitian entrepreneurs via a micro-loan that gets paid back and can then be re-loaned through Kiva.
  • I can’t save any NPR jobs, but I can at least access the news through outlets that serve the public’s interests rather than corporate interests.
  • I can’t save any innocent civilian in Libya, but I can reflect on what it means for humanity to have the UN, various human rights advocates and heads of state be moved to act to prevent genocide.
  • I won’t always understand what motivates others, but I can allow myself to be inspired by their passion and commitment to their cause.
  • I won’t always agree with others, but I can hear them out and be enhanced by diversity.
  • I can’t effectively do much to contain the effects of Fukushima, stop a war or corporate corruption or climate change, but I can do my best to raise my son, to teach him about compassion, social change and environmental justice, and to make sure he sees the world as it is, a magnificent place with a highly penetrable wall between good and bad; and hopefully instill in him the desire to do good as he grows. (Here’s a beautiful story of how a five-year old became inspired to do good as a grown man.)
  • I can’t broker peace amongst nations and citizens at war, but I can work on continuing to flourish in my relationships, cultivating new ones and letting love rule where it may.
  • I can’t win every battle that I choose, but I can make my hours count by having issues over which I’m strong enough to stand up.

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How was your weekend?
Would you like to share any battles you’re winning (or losing)?

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Meditation image by HaPe_Gera

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch March 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

I’m sorry about the stomach bug! We are fighting (and losing) the battle with HackBoogeyMan as I write this. Will it never end?

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2 Belinda March 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Kitch, sorry to hear about the losing battle with the HBM. It does seem at times like it’ll never end but I’m sending you virus free vibes taht it will soon…

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3 The Exception March 21, 2011 at 8:29 am

The interconnectedness is an interesting angle. We like to think that we are isolated and that “it won’t touch us” when it actually does in one way or another. I feel a little disconnected these days as I have turned off the radio and turned on the TED talks and the amazing and creative people really working to make a difference. Perhaps I am hiding from the reality that is out there? It just *sigh* I find myself feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the inability to listen to decisions and choices that are made in a bubble without consideration of long term or connectedness or reality based thinking. Perhaps in not listening to the news or the radio, I am living in a bubble as well?
Anyway, Friday my department discovered that we didn’t win contract meaning that most of us will be unemployed by this company in a matter of weeks…
Life happens to all of us; no one is isolated; no one lives in a bubble. We are connected and we are each faced with choices – see the possibilities that will benefit or wallow in the fear and choose accordingly.
The battle I am choosing – trust, open heart, learn, and remember to choose with full awareness.

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4 Belinda March 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Oh TE, sorry to hear about the lost contract; a slice of life only too real for so many more these days….I think the battles you are currently choosing are always worth the fight…thanks for sharing.

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5 ayala March 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

Sorry your boy was sick 🙁 I love this post and I understand how difficult it is when we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. I do believe that we are all touched by what happens in other parts of the world and I do believe that we need to stand up for those that don’t have a voice. I feel you always do such a good job to bring attention to all these issues-you do! I loved the story of the five year old that was so touched by what he witnessed that it forever changed him. I also love when you say that you can make a difference teaching your son and I know you are and I know you will. We can leave as our legacy children that will make a difference in the world and that is a true gift!

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6 Belinda March 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Thanks, Ayala. If I learned anything from breaking my no internet/news rule this weekend, it’s that I need to stop breaking my no internet/news rule on the weekends ; ). It’s good to know what’s going on in the world but it’s even better to remember that we don’t have to feel overpowered by the intensity of what’s happening, that we’re not helpless despite how dire things look and we can do something to sprinkle a little good news through our days.

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7 Eva Evolving March 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Belinda, thank you for this post. You articulate much of what has been on my mind and heart lately. Such tragedy in our world, and such a feeling on helplessness. A sense that I’m not doing anything to help by just going about my regular business, my job and my chores and my mundane daily life. But that’s not the point. We do what we can, where we are. We say prayers for those in danger, we take inventory of our blessings. And I especially love your point about raising your son to be a compassionate, generous human being – this is the greatest thing you can do to help the world right now. It is a high calling, to help raise the next generation.

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8 Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce March 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I love how you broker peace at home. It all starts at home. Our peace can resonate out bit by bit, person by person, wave by wave. I believe that.

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9 Katherine March 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

What a great post. I must admit that I try to steer clear of much of the media circuits, but it is amazing how much you can still learn about the world by just being in it. I love your way of fixing that hurts that are out there as well. I have two little ones and I hope that I can raise them to be caring individuals. I think the more love and caring that exists in the world, the better chance there is for a little more harmony. Peace to you and your journey.

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10 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Lovely insight Belinda. I feel a sense of helplessness when I look at these trajedies. But I do believe that we can all be the instruments of change. Even if it is small. All of the small waves of goodwill has to translate into the collective. I believe that.
Hope you feel better.

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11 Talon March 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I’m so sorry your son is unwell, Belinda. Hopefully the virus is a short-lived one.

Yes, there is so much to distress over in the world. I try hard to do everything I can to contribute to making it a better place in my little corner of it and offer what I can, where I can to help in other areas. It’s hard to find that balance of not being so overwhelmed that you stop feeling that anything you do is much too little…

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12 meg March 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

The world is indeed too much with us. I like your solutions 🙂

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13 ayala March 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Today is a sad day for you, I am sorry for your loss.

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14 Sandra / Always Well Within April 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Belinda,

We all need this encouragement! By encouraging yourself, you have encouraged us all. I love your choices and applaud your dedication.

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