between peace and personal responsibility

The world made me so sad today. I felt overwhelmed. And I had oh, so very much I wanted to say in response! But saying it would not bring me peace. I know this - and yet, I find it hard to simply let go. Even now, I'm typing angry sentences and then backspacing them. The truth is, I think there are times when we should infact hold on, and speak up, for what we truly believe in. But increasingly, I sense that I need to retreat, detach, bite my tongue, surrender, before my soul gets boggy with the cruelty and selfishness and anger and hypocrisy that I would fight against.

Readers of my books might understand how I struggle between the desire for peace and the responsibility to use my resources to do what I think is right.

Sharon Blackie once wrote thoughtfully about the difference between masculine and feminine approaches to the collapse of civilisation. She says that retreating from the world in order to survive is a masculine approach, whereas women understand more the need to care for the community. That richly eloquent article made me think deeply. Not about the male/female dichotomy, which had no value to me (as my daughter pointed out, an extrovert/introvert comparison may be more meaningful) - but I wondered which approach I myself want to take.

It seems to me to be complicated. Any choice requires resources - for example, money, character traits, sensitivities. I also don't believe that it needs to be a black or white matter. A person can retreat into the mountains, off the grid, and still donate their excess food to the starving or the sick. I heard from a woman today who said she was making no public comment on a particular issue, but in private she was taken action with prayer.

Of course, the answer to any problem usually lies within the heart of the problem. I may not be able to fix all the things about the world and our culture which trouble me, but I can at least offer a small counterbalance through myself. For example, I can use my public space for kind words and uplifting others. And all through the day, in all the small and vital ways, I can try to be what I wish the world was. Which is a hard enough struggle in itself!

Ultimately, I keep in mind a quote by Mother Theresa (herself a complicated woman) which, as a devout pagan, I believe is absolutely the heartstone of this whole issue ...

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. 
—Mother Teresa


  1. Trying to be what you want the world to be is a good first step to making it a better place.

    Lovely shots too, by the way.

  2. I remember reading once that the much-touted 'fight or fight' reflex is not universal but actually mostly a male thing. Women's reactions aren't the same.Rather they instinctively attempt to build bonds and community as a response to stress and/or threat. As ever, I think society works best when the male and female work together. I agree with the extrovert/introvert comparison. Although deeply 'female', I am also deeply introvert and community building does not come easily. We do what we can and, as you so wisely say, try to be what we wish the world was. There are many of us. Hopefully one day we'll overlap!

  3. Liz in Missouri USAJanuary 10, 2015 at 7:18 AM

    Yes! And never a better place for that old but true cliche' "Be the change you want to see." The world will bounce along it's rocky path and for a long while now I've felt that the changes I can make in myself for the better (patience, kindness, generosity) are really the best any of us can do - and then pray for the ripple effect.

  4. Hi Sarah, I have clicked on your page three times but have been unable to think of anything to write, although I really want to connect with you on this post. I have seen some of your comments around the blogosphere and know how deeply troubled you have felt today, I am so sorry. I think in this day and age, people are not given clear enough signs or allowances on how to react to their deepest core and this makes me sad. I would love to create a safe space, maybe a woman-only space in order for us all to gather, rant and hold each other in safety. Like an extended tribe across the globe.

    From what I have been working on myself in the last few weeks, I know that my body tells me when it is time to rant, I have been listening really hard recently and I am starting to understand that it never lies to me. Whether I act upon its messages or not is the most important thing in my life right now.

    I hope you find peace in your thoughts today x

  5. Lol, you inspired me to go back through my internet history to see what comments I left at blogs yesterday! Actually, I only left two, and they were pretty bland. There may be another Sarah out there! :-)