Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dealing with Fear

     It seems as if the whole week has been filled with news reports and alerts about France and Belgium. Terror has seized both nations after the ISIS attacks in Paris and the terrorists were linked to Belgium. Seeing these news flashes, a national feeling of empathy towards all those affected spread like wildfire in the United States. However, for most of us watching from television screens or cellular devices, worrying about what's going to happen within those countries borders is the least of our worries. Most of my friends can turn off the news and not wonder what will happen to these countries in the following days, weeks, and months. As much as I would love to be able to push the recent attacks to the back of my memory and not be distracted by a news alert featuring Belgium, I can't. As much as I would love to be able to say I'm not scared, I can't. When the place you call "home" despite having permanent residence in the United States for your whole life is practically turning into a war zone before your eyes; the one thing you can't help but feel is a growing pit inside your stomach; that growing pit is fear. 
      As fears of more attacks have lead to a level four security level in Belgium (the highest level), one might feel safe knowing that the military and police forces are ready to go at a moments notice. However, I don't feel a fear for a lack of help in a time of crisis. Being half way around the world from Belgium, I don't really feel fear any fear about what's going to happen twenty minutes from now. However, I do feel a fear. It's a fear that doesn't ease with growing news reports. I fear for my family and friends. I fear for them because no one knows what'g going to happen tomorrow. I fear for them because they are on the other side of the world, in a situation that I cannot even begin to relate to or even try to comprehend. 
       However, despite this growing pit of fear that seems to stay with me I've found ways to put my mind at ease. I've found that despite the terror, God was still present and isn't letting people down. Bible verses (1 peter 5:7, psalm 23:4 and psalms 56:3-4 to name a few) are marked and read whenever I realize my thoughts are turning away from what's going on in front me to what's going on 4,500 miles away. I look back through "Motivational Monday" quotes and remind myself of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous words: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." When the motivational quotes don't help; I do what any scared twenty year old college girl does very well. I call my mom.
     The fear that's been staying with me the past week probably won't be completely gone for a while. However, I know that despite the evil that was present in Paris this past weekend, the good in the people present in Paris during the attacks will forever outrank the atrocities that took place. It is because there was so much good showed during a time when Paris seemed to go through Hell that there is still a strong belief and faith that everything will be alright. It is this belief that makes the growing pit of fear inside my stomach vanish, if not for a while, at least a little bit. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dear Facetime, an open letter to a good piece of modern technology

Dear FaceTime,
      I realize society often gives technology a bad rap. Researchers are constantly questioning whether our increase in technology is a beneficial or degrading factor for communication. The internet is filled with jokes, videos, and comments about how people are becoming more absorbed in what's in a screen than what's going on behind the less than one inch thick layer of plastics, glass, and wires. Truth be told; walk into almost any building and anyone is bound to find a group of people focused more on a screen than on holding a face to face conversation with the person next to them. However, there is one part of technology that deserves a good rap. FaceTime, you deserve a lot of praise. While social media applications and websites such as FaceTime and Twitter seem to pull us away from current situations and people near us; you have allowed people to not only speak to each other from far away distances, but you have allowed people to see each other again.
     The people who matter the most to me currently live not across a street, road, town, or state from me. They don't even live across the country from me. They live approximately 4,500 miles away in a small country called Belgium. Phone calls whenever I go back to my home in the United States are always a great comfort; but it's not the same as actually getting to see my extended family. I can't see their expressions or how their faces look as they laugh. I can't see what someone's new hair cut looks like; I just have to close my eyes and visualize it.  FaceTime changed that for me. It allowed me to see just how wide my grandma can smile; or how much she can scowl when something isn't exactly right. I can see just how my grandad looks as he ponders on another history or science question; filled with an unmistakable gleam in his eye that reflects a need for understanding and a desire to learn more. While I'm still not able to give them a hug or smell soup simmering in the corner of the kitchen while freshly brewed coffee slowly drizzles it's way down into a coffee mug, I can see these things. And that's already more than what I previously had.
     People don't realize how much that means that I'm able to connect with my family back where I call "home" on a level beyond letters and traditional phone calls. It's made living 4,500 miles away a little bit more bearable. So while people are out giving technology a bad rap; let's remember one thing. Just because technology seems to be pulling a lot of people away; if used correctly it can bring families and friends, if not fully, partially back together.

Thank you,

A not so homesick - homesick European.