I listen to the news. A lot. I do it by choice, even though it often stresses me out. To me, it seems that the news reporting concentrates on what is wrong. Maybe the fact that I perceive it that way says more about me than it does about the news reports. But I don't think so. We hear about the countries that are in conflict with each other. We hear about the countries that have inner conflict. We hear about the inability of our own government to solve problems. We hear about how polarized liberals and conservatives are. We hear about people all over the world who want to harm us in some way. We hear about the various parts of the world that we think we need to harm before they get the chance to harm us. We hear about crimes of all sorts. We hear about the increasing rate of infections that are contracted during hospitalizations. We hear about the dangers of serious disease from ticks, mosquitoes and amoeba lurking in lakes and ponds. We hear about weather disasters. We hear about the failure of our schools. We hear about the crumbling of our infrastructure. I could go on, but you get the point.
Am I saying that we don't need to know these things? Not exactly. I am saying that we need balance. We need to hear at least as much good news as bad news. We need to understand that the good news is not the exception.
Am I over-simplifying? Yes, of course. For the sake of brevity, I have eliminated any sort of complexity. But if you google the term "ratio of bad news to good" you will find that most analysts agree that the overwhelming majority of the news reported by mainstream media is negative.
Sure, there are feature stories about someone who has overcome a tribulation of some sort. They are interesting to us because we perceive them to be an exception. But mostly we hear about people and situations that make us fearful or angry. And, predictably, we make choices based on this fear and anger.
But what if we are making those choices based on a false premise? What if most countries are not in conflict? What if most people have not been victims of crimes? What if, in fact, there is more good news than bad?
What if the stories we read in newspapers and heard on the radio and TV were stories about the thousands upon thousands of times a day when something good happens somewhere in the world?
Right about now, you might be thinking, "But that is not news, that is just regular life." Exactly my point. The good things that always happen are not considered to be newsworthy.
I would like to try a worldwide experiment in which mostly good news would be reported for a whole year. I wonder how different our perception of the world would be. How different would our perception of each other be? How different would our perception of ourselves be?
Would we find that there is less to fear and more to celebrate, less to be angry about and more to be grateful for? Would we be less stressful? Would we feel that we are more able to solve the problems that do exist? Would we think that far-out, wildly unrealistic ideas like world peace and ending hunger were possible?
I don't know the answer to this. But I would like to find out.
Let's start our own experiment. Please post one piece of good news as a comment after reading this.
Then, for the rest of the year, blog, tweet, tumble, instant message, text, or email some good news every day. Sure, all the bad news will still be out there, but we can flood cyberspace with lots of good news too!
Here's one to get us started. I left my change purse containing $75 in cash on the counter in a convenience store one afternoon not too long ago. The purse had no identification in it. I didn't realize I had left it until about 10 p.m. I was pretty sure that I would never see it again. But I went back to the store to see if it was there. The young man behind the counter said, "We were hoping the owner would realize she left it here." He handed it back to me. I thanked him and drove home. All of the money was still in the purse. I have to admit, I was surprised. It would have been so easy for the clerk or another customer to take the purse and the money. But, most people are honest. Good news!
One last idea, you might even be able to BE the Good News in someone else's report.