How would I tell the story about Hurricane Irene if I were a reporter and standing in exquisite sufficiency?
In our consumer culture, news is crafted to sell and entertain as much as it is to inform. While listening to the hurricane reports I heard:
- Washed away
- “It’s not worsening but it’s not getting better.
Hurricane Irene: Media’s Point-of-View
Language is power
There is what happened, that a hurricane swept over the Northeast and caused measurable damage and affected many people.
And there is how we talk about it that creates our relationship to what happened. (To learn more about the power of language click here.) The effect the words above have on my body, my mood, and my relationship to life itself are feelings of overwhelm, loss and weakness.
A Friend’s Point-of-View
In contrast, I heard a version of the story from a friend in Vermont, one of the areas that was deeply affected by the storm.
- She talked about losing beloved covered bridges and about flooded buildings that were ruined by the rising waters.
- She also spoke about the gatherings of people coming to help; the free food being distributed; the communities coming together for support; and unwitting vacationers-turned-volunteers working to help the community.
- She reflected on an overall mood that left her feeling okay.
I would say she was standing in the sufficiency – the “what is”-ness – of a situation labeled a “tragedy” by outside onlookers.
There is way to speak about a story – to ourselves and to others – that allows us to hold the tragedy inside of the sufficiency that is actually present in how people respond to life’s challenges.
Life is full of storms and we have a choice about how we want to be in them. The manner in which we face those challenges will offer the opportunity for us to develop resilience and faith or for us to harden and turn our hearts to stone. This is true both personally and collectively.
Telling the Story
How the story is told matters
The language used to describe events around the globe for anyone not directly affected will either cultivate our faith and resilience or perpetuate our belief that the challenging events of life are catastrophic and we have no power in the face of them.
As listeners, we can bring this awareness and ask: What would be possible – personally, interpersonally and collectively – if we stood in sufficiency when listening to the news?
Having heard both sides of the story, I can see and hold the exquisite sufficiency present in the face of what appears like tremendous scarcity.
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Jennifer Cohen is Co-founder and Director at Seven Stones Leadership Group
She serves her clients as an Executive Transformational Leadership Coach
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