The news has gotten so bad lately that I can barely stand to hear it anymore. Yet I am strangely compelled to keep listening, sometimes even against my will, just so that I am attuned to what is (supposedly) going on in the world. I must keep up with the things I am supposed to know.
Here is a random sampling of some of the headlines from the past week or so that were on the Internet sites of CNN and Fox:
1 killed, 25 hurt when bus rolls on interstate
Bomb kills 23 in Pakistan, dozens injured
Pittsburgh police officer gunned down
Man fatally stabs sister, Decapitates 5-year old on her birthday
Nice, right? Some of the headlines are so gruesome I feel physically accosted when I read them. I lock my doors at night, wondering what kind of world we live in. What has our nation come to? And yes, this is in addition to the nightmarish swirl of the media frenzy covering ongoing crises like the global financial meltdown, Al Qaeda’s terror binge against Western Civilization, and the insidious hint that we are all going to lose our houses and our jobs in the very near future.
Once the news outlets have filled their time slots with economic calamity, horrific crimes, freak accidents, and natural disasters, the little free space left over is devoted to alarming its readers with ominous warnings: our food is poisoned, the icecaps are melting, caffeine will kill you (no, wait! It’s good for you!).
We are experiencing death by one thousand sound bytes.
It’s no wonder we should all be convinced our world is falling apart at the seams. I saw a commentator on TV the other night saying, “I have a good job, and a relatively stable lifestyle, but after I read the newspaper I just about want to kill myself.”
It’s all bad news, all the time.
Don’t’ get me wrong - these reported events are indeed tragic for the few that are touched by them, and we certainly should pay attention to national issues that impact our country, our economy, and our relation to the world. I applaud those who generate activism to create positive change in society.
It seems, though, that in the fight for viewership, somehow the news media has found a way to capitalize on its own brand of terrorism: targeting our sense of well-being and stability by exposing us to the worst that life has to offer. They scour the country, sifting through the goings-on of all 300 million people to find the most horrific, unthinkable crimes being committed, then package it up and present to its loyal audience – all to generate traffic, to drive eyeballs to their franchises; and we are horrified, terrified, and held hostage by a constant sense of dread and anxiety.
What’s bothersome is how we are suckered into believing what we see on TV or the Internet as “news” is an intelligent reference point for defining reality. Well, here’s a news flash for you: It’s Not.
Be honest. You may be a bit more cautious than you were a year or two ago, but are things really so bad in your little corner of the world?
Here are some facts to reconsider:
• 92% of Americans are still working.
• Many industries such as packaged food, discount retailers, and health care are doing very well.
• 95% of Americans are not defaulting on their home mortgage.
• 38% of respondents of a December Yahoo! HotJobs survey said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 28% in 2007.
If you dig around enough in the dumpsters in the dark alleys outside of the media outlets, you too may uncover some positive press, scattered like discarded gum wrappers in the trash bin. I found a couple. Thank God, too.
One place where you can go to for a positive word on the street is Good News Network. Log on to this site, and you get nothing but good news. The mission of its founder, Geri, is to prove that good news sells. She says, “Negative news is an important staple of any well-informed citizenry and necessary for society's evolution. But, today we are in dire need of a well-balanced media diet.”
Amen, sister! Go on, now!
“Local TV news, especially, has been continually feeding us junk food. We need to be informed by a world view that is not dripping with sensationalism and attuned to the police scanner.”
Whoa. What a concept, and she said it in a nicer way than I just did earlier. Geri believes positive news can improve our lives by bringing emotional well-being, health, and even prosperity. Let’s all go visit her site and wish her well.
I found another positive outlook in a March 4 article in The Wall Street Journal “From Attitude to Gratitude: This is Not Time for Complaints.” The author, Jeffrey Zaslow says, “There may be a positive byproduct from our troubled times: a decrease in the urge to complain.”
Hey! I predicted gratefulness as a coming trend last January. Gosh, I hope that train is leaving the station soon.
Sazlow goes on to say, “Homeowners are unhappy that home values have fallen, but it’s a relief to avoid foreclosure. And yes, our portfolios have plummeted, but most of us can say that at least we didn’t invest with Bernie Madoff.”
Recent research from George Mason University says that being grateful is the best way to achieve happiness. There’s actually a big gratitude movement going on in the country. You can find gratitude social experiments, gratitude twitterers, gratitude blogs, and even a gratitude cruise. Just type in a Google search for “gratitude” and you’ll see for yourself.
So dear readers, instead of sinking in to all of the negative news out there, let’s get a little perspective and try to be thankful, shall we? I’m sure if you stop and think about it, you can find plenty of positive news in your life. Friends, family, a measure of love, a good church, small acts of kindness, and your cute little pet that is so happy to see you when you come home.
Sure, we screw up a lot, too, but if you think about it, God’s grace is sprinkled all over the place – like the little sparkling flashes you see bouncing off of the black ocean's rolling waves on a sunny day.
In spite of the barrage of Armageddon-esque curve balls thrown from the news media, I am convinced we can still find goodness if we look hard enough. Most of us still have jobs – and homes, families, communities, and even some money for a meal at Applebees once in a while.
Let’s do all we can to help the country and to help our friends and neighbors in need who are not so fortunate. Jesus reminded us to do this in the gospel of Matthew. He said to look for the good of God and His Kingdom first, rather than getting caught up in all the negative. “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” He says, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” True that.
So, come on. Let’s spread some good news.