Father Eugene Hemrick

As I paged through the news on my computer, I realized I had run through a hundred postings within an hour that touched on the election, the pandemic, protest marches, the progress of vaccines, global conflicts, sports and ways for staying healthy.

While I experienced this media blitz, I was struck by my psychological reactions to it: fear, jubilation, disgust, anger, unbelief, sorrow, depression and overall anxiety. Most of all was a strong desire to get away from it and go outdoors for a quiet walk.

The thought then occurred, “When is too much too much? Undoubtedly, we are blessed with resilience, but to what extent? Where is the breaking point?”

During the walk I eventually took, jubilant people had flooded the streets and horn-blowing cars raced up and down in front of the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol at the news of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

In talking with several elated people, their joy was not so much over Biden’s victory but about a sense of relief. A weight had been lifted. The air was fresher, the sun brighter and the sky bluer.

What is this weight of which I speak?

Although a new hopeful chapter in our country was being written, the jubilation was about more than this. The weight of too much being too much was lifted. News 24/7 is addictive. It also creates an environment that engulfs us.

We were inhaling too much strife, untruthfulness, invectiveness, discontentment and conflict. Many felt they had reached their limits: “Too much is too much” was sinking them into depression and unrelenting anxiety.

In the book “Habits of the Heart,” researchers point out freedom is imperative to American life but once achieved most people do not know what to do with it. To do what we desire and be able to freely choose unhindered is freedom’s beauty.

But freedom also comes with the duty of responsibility and refraining when necessary; it has rules.

Will disturbing news blitzes continue? Yes! Employing our liberty to refrain from it when necessary is our best use of freedom and maintaining mental balance.