What if there’s a war?

Some very kind friends gently chastised me today for getting too wound up in following the news, which is… well, this is the Middle East. I was reminded of a sort of saying about personal safety in an uncertain situation. I don’t know its origin.

Either there will be a war or there won’t be a war.
If there isn’t a war, okay.
If there will be a war, then either we will be involved or we won’t be involved.
If we are not involved, okay.
If we are involved, either my city will be targetted or it won’t be targetted.
If my city is not targetted, okay.
If my city is targetted, it will either be in my neighborhood or it won’t.
If it’s not in my neighborhood, okay.
If it is in my neighborhood, either I will be wounded or I won’t be wounded.
If I’m not wounded, okay.
If I am wounded, then either I will die from the wounds or I won’t.
If I don’t die from the wounds, then I will live out the rest of my life until I die.

Now, this is not the way I think about war, but it does demonstrate the futility of worrying about an unknown future and the calming influence (for me, at least) of not spending too much thought or energy on things that I cannot control.

That doesn’t mean I’m insouciant. I have an emergency light source, candles, bottled water, stocks of toilet paper (what? it’s not important?), food in the freezer, stores of dry food like lentils and flour, a camp stove and so on. But having done the legwork, I just have to accept the limit of my personal power.

Next to humor (and I make some pretty awful jokes), acceptance is the coping technique I do my best to cultivate. Accepting an unpleasant or bad situation – war or abuse or cancer, for instance – doesn’t mean that I endorse it or like it. It just means that I have looked at reality and noticed that it is real. Not accepting reality is fairly insane. I can’t even work to change something until I have noticed and accepted that it is real.

This is part of what I mean by “living intentionally”: choosing to live an examined life, taking responsibility for my choices, my thoughts, my actions. An important aspect of my life is a continual process of examining my values and principles and checking my decisions against them. One of my principles is not spending time and energy on things that are outside my sphere of influence.

It is no secret that I am a spiritual and religious woman. Part of my faith system involves intercessory prayer, and I do pray for people and situations. But then I leave it in the hands of my God.

And that’s okay.

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