Be the Change, People.

krysta bernhardt

"I'm just a sad guest on this dark earth.I want to believe in the mercy of the world again..."

- Tom Waits "Make It Rain"

It's so very easy to get mired in the crap that is dragging the world down. Watched the news lately? Logged onto social media and seen everyone indignantly pontificating about everything that is wrong with the world? I like to be as educated and informed as the next guy about what is going on, but DEAR GOD. If I start my day by reading social media or watching the news I want to call out sick from my life, curl up under a blanket and wish the entire world into a black hole in a galaxy far, far away. I try (mostly unsuccessfully) to stay as far away from anything that dark until after a couple of STRONG cups of coffee and at least one full meal (which usually means sometime after 2pm). My general state of anxiety is bad enough on it's own without provoking it with every-possible-negative-everything-there-is-to-ingest-in-the-world first thing upon waking.

Believe me, I get it. Bad stuff happens. The world sucks. IT SUCKS! Every day people are being raped and murdered and tortured and killed. Every day there are people being kidnapped and forced into slavery. Minority groups are being wrongly discriminated against. STILL. In the 21st century! Religious groups are killing one another. Unknown people from distant lands are trying to murder us all. I need to be constantly vigilant to make sure I don't get blown up, or raped, or abducted from a grocery store parking lot. I need to make sure my kids are never out of my sight so they don't get shipped to a foreign country, or swallow cleaning supplies, or wander onto a highway, or watch some kind of unsavory porn before they are old enough to process it. I need to vigilantly read every label of every food item that I am planning to buy at the grocery store because inside every stinking thing I am planning to feed my family lurks poison. POISON I TELL YOU!  Besides large manufacturing corporations filling the foods I buy with cancer-causing preservatives and botulism, auto manufacturers are trying to kill me by filling my face with shrapnel from recalled airbags. The water authority is letting lead and arsenic seep into my water. My furniture is off-gassing toxic poisons into my home. My nail polish is giving me a disease I haven't even heard of yet. My kids have learning disorders that have yet to be diagnosed because their iPads are dissolving their brains. My neighbor's lawn chemicals are leaching toxins into the soil and killing all of the bees. The pitbull down the road is going to eat my cats. And my kids. Or me. I am not getting enough exercise and I am going to suddenly die of heart disease in the very near future. Wait, I mean I'm getting too much exercise and I am going to die from heart disease in the very near future. My marriage is in trouble according to some article I read on the front page of CNN. Politicians and wealthy people are trying to steal everything I have worked for by raising my taxes so high that I can't afford to buy the food that is going to poison me and lead to my untimely demise. I can't go to the hospital anymore because I might end up with MRSA or the wrong organ being removed. The ocean is filling with garbage and radioactivity. The air is filling with smog and toxic fumes. The world is burning up from climate change. The sun is killing me. Coffee is killing me. Wine is killing me. Wait... no they aren't.  Wait... yes they are!  Wait... no they aren't!! Wait... yes they are!!





Just STOP already.

Put down the device for a minute.




Better - right?

What is the average person to do? We can't all hide our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away. That's not productive and surely a recipe for certain disaster. But I'll tell you what: focus on what you can change. Can you do something big that impacts any of the above issues? Great! Go for it! Unfortunately, most of us can't, so we are left to helplessly pontificate on social media so that we feel like we have some sort of control over any of it.

So for the rest of us... FOCUS. Focus on your every day. Focus on making a small positive change. Right now. Focus on your kids, or your parents, or your friends. What is one small thing you can do today to make life a little better? How can you channel your brand of creativity to help make the world a better place?  How can you use your talents to create positive change? Do you cook a really good rhubarb pie? Make one for your invalid neighbor. Do you sing really well? Ask the local nursing home if you can sing a few tunes for the residents. Leave a big tip for the overworked waiter at the diner. Offer the lady at the grocery store whose toddler is misbehaving a helping hand instead of posting some snarky Judgy McJudgster picture of her on Instagram. Pick up that piece of trash at the park instead of walking by and exclaiming "Wow! I can't believe someone would drop that there! What an a** hole!" Tell the people around you what you appreciate about them. Tell them every day. Encourage the people around you who are creating good things in the world to keep doing it. Say I love you every time you talk to someone that you really, truly do. In other words, BE what you want to see.

Maybe someday we will live in a world that doesn't waste all it's energy on gawking at train wrecks, telling everyone else what they are doing wrong, giving the most air time to people who commit atrocities and pumping crime dramas into our psyches 24/7.

Until then, take a breath, do something nice for someone, make a small change and turn off the f***ing device for a little while.

Because that is what is really killing you.

© 2016 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration by Krysta Bernhardt "It's Eating Your Soul"