We live in a pernicious age, a tumultuous chapter in human history wherein our technological advancements have been hijacked and merged with a philosophy of global terror. Now by “terror” I do not mean to imply only “terror – ism,” e.g. radical Islam’s physical campaign of worldwide violence, but also, the psychological terror induced by the media itself. Considering the ceaseless stream of doom and gloom that permeates our fragile psyche from daily television, social media, and the local newspaper, it is nearly impossible to not feel like a baby deer in the crosshairs of the hunter’s rifle, for who is to say when the next bomb, stabbing, shooting, or senseless act of evil will happen. Do you doubt me? Watch enough news and you too will be hearing those chanting voices of doom whispering – “They are coming for you, they are coming for you”…… CRAZY MAKING!
Now comes the irony; as the world panics and that paralyzing dread of imminent demise sets in, we desperately turn to the very same agencies (media) that have engineered our psychic/emotional distress for just a little tiny bit of tender loving care, a phenomena psychologists call Stockholm syndrome (the irrational tendency of the victim to bond/identify with the aggressor). Wake-up people: the media is primarily about ratings and is most certainly not your friend! Case in point, imagine what would happen if the demigods of media “embraced the light,” devoting every day half its time to reporting the good. It wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining now, would it? There is something darkly exciting about the threat of Jihadi John (before we blew him up) jumping out with his serrated knife from behind the bushes or Isis’s next televised execution than we are willing to admit, for we are all just a little curious about the shadows behind the light. Now don’t get me wrong, most modern human beings would never voluntarily harm another, but there is still some primitive infinitesimal part of the human psyche that yearns to “taste” the darkness, and it’s to that ancient limbic part of the human experience that the media caters. This becomes most disadvantageous for us seeking spiritual advancement, for a corrupted perception (that expects bad) will undoubtedly “open the door” to welcome it in. This is in accordance with the Talmudic principle, “a person is lead to where he/she wants to go” (Tractate Shabbat page 10). If we focus our mind’s “eye”, our concentration, on all that is negative, dark, and evil, we create a world view, a paradigm, that accords with that perception. Hence, it is most important, as explained at length in Kabbalah, to first and foremost rectify our perception as, “you are where your thoughts are” (Ba’al Shem Tov). Practice counting the good every day, i.e. recognize the abundance of good in your daily life, and I promise, you will never feel the reaper’s sickle, for the good will outweigh the bad. The world is a big place and it has both angels and demons, good and evil. Though, at times, we feel overwhelmed by the chaos unfolding on the silver screen flashing before us, we must never forget one of the most important lessons in Kabbalah, “a little light cancels out much darkness” (Zohar). To say it differently, one angel negates the power of 10,000 demons! The way of the spiritually mature (as modeled by the great masters of the past) is to always be aware of what is unfolding on the world stage, and that does include, yes, even the bad. But here’s the difference: whereas the novice, as embodied by the consciousness of this generation, allows the bad to take hold of (infiltrate) their mind and heart – thoughts and emotion, creating chaos within--the master preserves his/her serenity, all the while addressing the problem at hand. This ensures a total integration of one’s being with the world (for the sake of its rectification), all the while maintaining the serenity and calm that is part and parcel of bonding to God alone. So get up, shake off the mire of media-generated depression, become informed about the bad just enough to help make a difference, then go outside and focus on all that is good, right, and true about life because it is you “embracing the light” that in the end defeats the darkness.