Florida Shooting: A product of “compassion fatigue”

Florida School Shooting

Last Wednesday, students entered into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, expecting to live a typical Wednesday. Instead, they were faced with one of the most horrific and terrifying experience no one should ever have to face, an open shooting.

For as horrible of an event as this, you’d think that our nation would come together to support the victims and seek the necessary change, but instead, people liked and retweeted information and continued with their day. The worst part is that this has happened numerous times in the last 15 years, yet here we are, facing the same problem but this time with little desire to change. This epidemic that has been plaguing our society is compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue is emotional desensitization caused by overexposure to emotional situations, experiences, or content. This is seen throughout time, and significantly so in regards to school shootings. This phenomenon is becoming so relevant to our society. Society, like mentioned in the video, is not acting.

People see the videos and tweets but don’t feel the need to act unless it personally affects them. This is why this video of students speaking out, not only to the public but also to government leaders, is so interesting. The students believe that nothing will be done unless they actively pursue solutions to the gun problem in America. One of the most fascinating things about this video is that the voices are of children, people under the age of eighteen years old. This goes to show that the ones advocating change are the ones who have been affected personally and have a front row seat to a nation that stays idle. Young people have been exposed to such violence for many years now, but it seems now that they are the one’s advocating change more than their elders who have become desensitized to inhumane actions.

The real question to pose is, can we combat compassion fatigue?

I believe we can. Now, the key is to act. When society, even when individuals, begin to act a fire ignites under them and they seek change. Change won’t allow this problem to blow over in a week or two, this change will continue until the problem is solved. That is what these young people understand and are trying to convey to the public. When people being to act (or to serve) more compassion fills them and it is easier to seek the well-being of another. This does not happen overnight but the more we invest our time and efforts into learning, being informed, seeking change, or just supporting the victims, the more we will experience compassion in the face of terror rather than fatigue.

Spiritual Literacy

We live in a world that is almost entirely digital, which as exciting as that can be, has started to swallow us up. It engulfs us in endless text messages, digital gaming, Netflix, and a large array of other time-consuming media. With the heightened issue of mental health, we are starting to see a movement of media literacy advocacy from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Nowadays, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat having been clouding our spiritual minds to believe that we must live a perfect life—sun kissed skin, an attractive partner, stylish home décor, and of course live a vegan lifestyle—to find joy. Youth who struggle with self-worth are developing more self-hate than ever before. The leaders of the church have felt the urgency of this problem and have been incredibly vocal about this issue. Elder David A. Bednar spoke about how to appropriately be spiritually literate to a group of youth. Listening to this changed my perspective on media for the better.

The video shows young people who mean no harm by playing on their phones, gaming, or obsessing over other forms of media. Elder Bednar makes a valid point by illustrating how it can be a slippery downhill slope towards wasting time, opportunities, and relationships for something that has little worth.

What is so touching about Elder Bednar’s remarks is that he introduces the idea of spiritual literacy. He poses two questions:

  • Does the use of various technologies or media invite or impede on the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
  • Does the time you spend using various technologies or media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve?

I strongly agree with Elder Bednar’s words. Technology isn’t an evil thing, as a matter of fact, it is one of the Lord’s greatest tools. However, what matters most is how we choose to use it. We give value to media by the way we choose to use it. If we are spending all of our time being paralyzed by our Instagram feed, we are diminishing the spiritual power of technology and media. On the contrary, if we are being real and candid on our Facebook status about how we overcome struggle or express gratitude to another, we are using media in the way God intends us to. Media has the power to unify us, both literally and figuratively. If we live by the words of Elder Bednar, we can easily determine whether our media consumption is causing us to be objects or if it is empowering us to be agents.

Media literacy teaches us to interact with media content and analyze the message the sender is trying to convey compared to the actual message presented. We can apply this same principle of media literacy to the principle of spiritual literacy. Are we paying attention to what we are viewing or are we allowing our news feed to determine our interest? The key is to determine your media goals—what do I hope to feel, achieve, learn, or share through media? Then use Elder Bednar’s two questions to determine if the media and technology you are engaged in is spiritually enhancing or diminishing.

Now, more than ever, we need to be aware of our spiritual literacy. With so much commotion around us it is essential that we focus on what matters most in our technological endeavors. The future generations will be a healthier, stronger, and more confident by abiding by the counsel of Elder Bednar.

Pick a Flower

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Several weeks ago, we were in Greece on a field trip through some incredible ruins. The sun was shining and our professor was making the stories come to life in a way that got us all so excited. At the end of our tour, we were given 20 minutes to explore the site. I walked through the ancient city in ruins and saw a patch of adorable little yellow flowers. I smiled and walked past them but as soon as I did, I had a feeling to go back and pick some. I returned and found the cutest little nuggets and kept walking. On my way to the exit, I saw the cutest little Asian woman. We exchanged glances and she flashed the most beautiful smile. I realized that the extra flower I had picked was meant for her. We walked towards each other and she graciously accepted the little flower with so much joy and gratitude. She thanked me as if I had gifted her something so special. That 3 minute interaction made my entire day. Her smile and sincerity made me realize that I need to appreciate the little things more in my life. Christ taught His disciples, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It made me think of Christ and how he asks us to do the little things to follow Him. That joy we both felt by a simple flower was the fruits of a simple call to follow Him.

Personal Worship

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Today has been one of those days that puts you back on course. This week has been crazy to say the least: Trump’s recent announcement, the flood of fear sweeping over Jerusalem, preparing final projects, studying for finals, and so much more. It was nice to take a step back and breathe and to really focus on things that truly matter. We got to hear from President and Sister Coombs who have been serving in the Jerusalem district for a year and a half now. They shared some things that really resonated with me. One of those things was personal worship and what that looks like to us. It make me realize that it will never be enough to just go to church and call it good. God asks for our hearts and that requires lots of personal prayer, scripture study, and an attitude of service. My thoughts drifted to a photo took recently in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. As I entered the Church I caught a woman pilgrim kneeled down in great humility in front of the stone that once carried the body of Jesus. She touched the stone and with tears streaming down her eyes, whispered a faith-filled prayer. I could feel the spirit as I, too, knelt down, closed my eyes, and connected with my Savior. She taught me, along with the Coombs, that worship is more than a Church Service, it is an lifestyle. Christ taught that too when he was teaching the Samaritan woman at the well. He told her: “And the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. For unto such hath God promised his Spirit.” (John 4:23) Learning from the pilgrim at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher brought this teaching to life. Make your worship personal and you will be filled with the spirit like I was that day.

His Wink

The past few weeks have been a perfection to me. School is still demanding and my schedule equally so, but I have noticed the sun is shining brighter. It is all because of one word: joy. Joy is a conscious choice and I am learning to chose it, every single day.

I recently finished reading, “A Heart like His” by Virginia H. Pearce, and MY GOODNESS it has changed me. It is a beautiful novel about Virginia’s quest to be more vulnerable, open, and to love like God does. The book has motivated me to do just that, to let my guard down and experience life in the way it was intended and that has been the cause of my so-called “perfection”. I am currently filming a special project (details to come!), practicing yoga with goats, riding bikes, loving the people in my life, and SO MUCH MORE. The more I immerse myself in new things and adventures, the more I consciously see the Lord’s hand in my life. It is in those sacred moments where the only thing my eyes can clearly see is love, where I see God. He is just winking at me, reminding me to enjoy every second of the journey.

As I was reading through my scriptures, I stumbled upon a verse in Jacob. Tears filled my eyes as I understood and really felt Jacob and Joseph experienced. It is in the little details and big moments that we come to know our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jacob 1:6 And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.

There is something so powerful in choosing joy and putting aside all else. In the end, nothing else will matter. Do your best, treat yourself well, and look for God. He is right there just waiting for you to know Him.

 

-c

Open your eyes

I had an exceptionally great weekend: I went to a wedding, my best friend came into town, and I managed to finish 2 midterms and 2 papers all before Friday afternoon. It was just a really, really good weekend.

I found myself singing a little louder in the shower, dancing a little more as I walked, and opening my eyes to how beautiful life around me is.

And it was ALL because I learned something that really changed my perspective on how to live.

the teacher said the following:

“Faith is more than a desire or a belief. Faith is complete confidence in God, that He knows whats best.”

I hit my perfectionist self right in the heart. The entire week I had spent trying to do everything I could to make everything perfect: studying A LOT, trying to look like I slept more than 4 hours, being happy, and all that… things just don’t go as planned. Tests don’t go as planned, hair looks messy, and naps are more common than I’d like to admit.

BUT thats the beautiful part of God’s plan. He knows that things won’t go MY WAY and frankly, thats the last thing He wants for me because He knows what I need and He isn’t afraid to disappoint me for a moment to help me be happy in the long-run.

My mind was running on this idea and I happened to read Alma 48:17:

“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”

THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL PROMISE. If we develop our faith, and truly place our confidence in the Lord, and stop worrying about when things don’t go our way, we can have the spiritual strength that Moroni had. And…Moroni was pretty great… “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever…” just saying.

That gave me the hope and motivation that I so desperately needed to move forward and stop caring so much.

I could also say that this weekend I procrastinated an assignment, I cut several people off in my car (on accident–sorry Braxton!), made a few dumb comments, ate way too much food, and didn’t get half the stuff I wanted done. I could easily dwell on all of those things and justify this weekend as a flop, but I trust him, so it was a dysfunctionally perfect weekend that God knew would make all the difference.

We get credit for trying, and that’s all God wants us to do.

So, trust Him and put your confidence in Him.

Let’s see what good we can do.

Permutations and Combinations

I remember sitting in a math class in middle school and learning about permutations and combinations. Remember this?

“If something can be chosen, or can happen, or be done, in m different ways, and, after that has happened, something else can be chosen in n different ways, then the number of ways of choosing both of them is m · n.” (TheMathPage)

As the number of things (letters) increases, their permutations grow astronomically.  For example, if twelve different things are permuted, then the number of their permutations is 479,001,600. (TheMathPage)

Ironically, what I had once ruled out to be tedious busy work, has been the formula that have been occupying the whiteboard of my mind.

Choosing between this major, that minor, this boy, that internship, just to name a few. Mixing the order, the things, and the timing have been punched into my calculator enough to callus my fingertips. Decisions can be overwhelming, especially for an over-thinker like me.

My prayers have been a lot of:

“Father, I like this but I also like this. I want them both. I can only choose one, huh? but I just like them, oh and also this.”

or

“Father, I don’t want to pick anything.”

and my personal favorite

“Wait, so I have to choose…I’m confused”

I was overanalyzing a situation just yesterday when I had the strongest impression to stop and study my scriptures. So, in the HBLL, I closed my textbooks and my computer and opened my Book of Mormon right where I left off.

Jacob 4

 10 Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.

 13 …for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

He knew. AND He always does.

He is aware of our every decision, worry, desires, and goals. He knew I needed that and He spoke to me and impressed my mind with thoughts that allowed peace to penetrate my heart.

I cross-referenced to Isaiah 55:9 (one of my favorites):

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Work hard. Don’t give up. Stop worrying. Believe in yourself. Serve. Love.

Even though I have 479,001,600+ options, the things that matter most are those 12 words. I think I’ll live by that, and let the Lord counsel with me.

(and you should do. maybe you could help me at it…)