For the first time in my life, I want to turn away from the six o’clock news. Or any news, period. It’s so tempting to avoid the images of war, terrorist attacks, murders, and the daily dose of political egocentricity from both sides of the aisle. But I can’t. And I would argue neither should you or anyone who wants this world to not only survive, but thrive for our children, grandchildren and all future generations. It’s that important.
I’m a news addict. I admit it. Since I was a kid and collected newspaper articles about the Kennedy family. As an adult, I earned a journalism degree from the University of Kansas. I went to work as a newspaper reporter and spent the next ten years living and breathing news as a reporter in towns such as Leavenworth, KS, Laredo, TX, El Paso, TX, and Fort Myers, FL. In El Paso I met my husband, a TV news photographer who loved getting the story as much as I did.
So we lived and breathed news together. Eventually we had kids and I switched to public relations, but I read the newspaper everyday and watched “his” station morning, noon, and night whenever possible.
When the kids got older, they sat on wooden stools at the kitchen counter while I made supper. I had the news on so I could catch up on the day’s events. We watched the fall of the towers. We watched election news. We watched wars rage. My daughter was a history major in college and we discussed politics, women’s rights, and civil rights.
Now, neither one of my smart, responsible, caring millennials will watch the news. I recently spent a week with my daughter and I didn’t see the news one time in seven days. I told my son that and he asked, “Didn’t you feel better?”
I wonder if it’s my fault that they prefer not to be exposed to the horrors of today’s news. It’s not just the politics, although I think we’re all sick of the mud-slinging, partisan ranting, accusation-filled displays of bloated egos, no matter what newscast you choose to watch. It’s the steady diet of war, suicide bombers, innocent lives lost on streets that should be safe, mentally unstable men shooting and stabbing people they don’t know. And then there’s the local news with ten minutes of police blotter at the top of every newscast that makes us feel unsafe in our own homes followed by a rehash of the same diet of man’s inhumanity to man.
So why does it bother me so much that people refuse to watch? I could argue that we have a duty to watch. We have a duty to know what our elected representatives are doing so that we can make informed decisions when we vote and give them feedback when we don’t agree with their actions. We need to know what legislation is under consideration and how it will affect us. That is true. But that’s not it.
We must watch the news or our worlds become small. Too small. Somehow the subject came up in our Sunday school class a few weeks ago and I wrote in my journal these words. “Small annoyances become major tragedies.”
That’s it. If we live in our own little worlds, we start to think our world is the whole world. We replace real needs with those that aren’t. We lose perspective.
We watch the news and we see that people are suffering. We see that my health issues are small compared to the mass genocide in another country or the famine or people who are dying of disease because they lack basic infrastructure like running water and the roads that would allow us to deliver to them vaccines we take for granted. We realize we have the best medical care in the world available to us, the best hospitals, the best doctors, the best research facilities. We are blessed.
When we ignore the news and bury our heads in the sand, a stopped-up bathtub becomes a major crisis. Someone takes “our” parking space. The car won’t start. The coffee maker dies. The
Starbucks isn’t open. I drop my Apple watch and break it. The cable’s out. The dog barfs on the couch.
First world problems.
Watching the news reminds us that this world has bigger problems than whether the Spurs preempted my favorite Friday night program.
It reminds us that we are connected. We don’t always like that idea. If it happened to them, it could happen to us. Folks, it could happen to us. We need to step up, not out. We need to pray for our neighbors. In this world made small by technology, the French are our neighbors. That pond really is a tiny pond.
And good things are happening. Joy is happening. People are standing up and saying they won’t be intimidated. They will go to the concert. They will cross the bridge. They will become missionaries. They will be doctors without borders. They’ll volunteer. They’ll plant crops and trees. They’ll fight the only way they know how. By not stopping. People are helping each other get through this difficult, tumultuous time. This isn’t about political parties, it’s about human beings and human connections. Bottom line, they’re doing what God expects us to do as members of the human race.
People often bash the media in front of me. They don’t know I was the media. In my heart, I still am. Because I know that reporters want to know the truth and they want to share the truth. Fake news doesn’t come from true journalists. True journalists are truth seekers and truth sharers. They are often the bearers of bad news and we like to shoot the messenger. That’s okay. They’re tough. They can take it. Sometimes they bother us with questions when we’re devastated and heartbroken. Forgive them. They’re telling others our stories. Stories that need to be told. Don’t forget that without free press, democracy cannot stand. Our forefathers knew that. We might not always like what others say, but we defend to the death their right to say it.
As tempting as it is, don’t stick your head in the sand. Stand tall. Hold hands. (Singing “Kumbaya, My Lord,” isn’t required, but hey, it never hurts.)
Do you watch the news? Why or why not? (Please remember, this isn’t an invitation to talk politics.)