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It is important to stay informed, but despair won't move us forward
In Embracing Curiosity, I step away from writing about travel to comment on the bigger journey of life, exploring my faith and politics with curiosity and nuance.
I’m an admitted news junkie. I want to know all of the things. I want to understand my world. I don’t want to be surprised by lack of information and I seek information from as many sources as possible.
And more often than not, that news is bad.
We frequently look at the past with rose tinted glasses, believing that our current obsession with bad news is all of the fault of 24-hour “news” networks (although they are not off of the hook) and the explosion of the internet (which spreads bad news across the globe immediately). But a penchant for bad news has been a part of the human experience since the invention of the printing press. It is our human nature to want to hear the bad news first, to gravitate toward the negative. Positive news rarely makes the front page of a newspaper. Nightly news programs lead with human or natural disaster. And trending topics online almost certainly require a deep breath to prepare for what we will discover when we click on the link.
I would never want to argue against the importance of paying attention to stories about disasters, political upheaval, wars, and human suffering. As global citizens, we have a duty to pay attention to the pain and suffering of those around the world. As citizens of towns, states, and countries we have a responsibility to know what is happening with our fellow citizens and local and national politics. Burying our heads in the sand makes us unsympathetic neighbors and irresponsible citizens.
But paying attention to bad news doesn’t change the world. It doesn’t help us build better societies. It doesn’t help make us better neighbors. And it doesn’t help make us more effective citizens.
We need good news to do that.
This isn’t about finding elusive balance. This is about paying attention to the movers and shakers who are already making a difference and building off of what they have already done. This isn’t about finding that single feel-good story that reminds us that there are good people in the world. This is about figuring out how to replicate that single feel-good story so that it becomes the norm, not the exception.
There is plenty about our world that can bring us down and make us feel helpless. As a mom and teacher, I worry about climate change, gun violence, book bans, the rise of Christian nationalism, and a barely functioning national government. There are plenty of reasons for us to be concerned about both our present and future.
But there are reasons to be hopeful.highlighted this in his recent piece:
That is not to downplay the suffering around the world. When life is shitty, you don’t have the luxury of seeing all the reasons for hope that aren’t going to help you get out of your particular situation.
But if we have the time to lament the problems around the world that don’t directly touch us, then we also have time to look for the good and spread the news. We can’t build a better world if we don’t know what good is already happening. The only way out of the dark is to shine a light so we can see our way out.
So how can we start finding the good news?
After listening to the founder during a Pantsuit Politics episode, I started following Good, Good, Good on Instagram. They regularly share news stories that highlight positive progress around the world.
Stop watching 24-hour news. Yes, you should have news that you check into on a regular basis, but set a time limit and make sure you vet your sources. (The Flip Side will send you a daily email about important issues with clips from different sources across the political spectrum.) Be informed, know what is happening, and then look for ways to do something about it. Find organizations that are interested in meaningful change of hearts and minds in addition to policy.
Share the good. Did you read an uplifting book? Share it on your social media. Better yet, send a friend a text message or email to encourage them with good news that you come across as you are reading or even scrolling. Like many writers, I struggle to get readers to share some of my best work, even the work that readers really like. By now we all know that social media is algorithm driven and more often than not, those algorithms reward negativity. Challenge the algorithm by sharing good news and positive pieces that build us up. Get around the algorithms by returning to a world where we emailed or sent messages with pieces that we found meaningful.
Because there is good work happening.
Again, I never want to downplay the importance of paying attention to breaking news. One of my daily reads isand her breakdown of national news with her understanding of how it fits into our nation's history. While the news she shares isn't always uplifting, I appreciate her honestly and the context that she presents for even the most troubling of situations. And when she feels like there is reason for hope, she makes sure to highlight the light in the darkness and encourages her readers to look for the same.
I believe that we can do better. I believe that we need to do better. It’s the only way for us to progress forward.
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