An interesting thing happened recently that gave me pause. Allow me to set the scene:
So I was getting ready to take an exercise class yesterday, and I came across a couple of people who were standing near the studio’s fronk desk, talking to the receptionist. I headed up that way, because I needed to sign in for the class, and as I stood there writing my name on the sign-in sheet, I found myself somewhat mesmerized by what the others were saying.
You see, I could only catch a few words here and there, but I determined that they were talking about a soap opera of some kind, or I just walked in on the tail end of an incredible story, but I had clearly missed all of the important details.
Anyway, when I finished signing in, I cheerfully turned to the people at the front desk and exclaimed, “I have no idea what you are talking about, but it certainly sounds quite exciting!”
I was greeted with a steely silence by way of reply. The group quickly dispersed.
I was confounded. I wondered if it was something that I had said, but after replaying my (comparatively few) words over again in my head, I decided that I had not said anything amiss. So I went about my business and got ready for the class.
One of the people involved in the front desk conversation was near me, and she made this disdainful comment, “It was only the top-trending story on Twitter this morning!” Her face was full of scorn, as if I must’ve crawled out from under a rock to not be aware of the matter about which she was referring.
“I am not on Twitter,” I calmly replied. She looked perplexed.
A man who was part of the conversation decided to chime in: “The story was all over NPR this morning!”
I let him know that I don’t listen to the radio, either. By way of reply, I told him that I only get my news via the BBC World Service Global News podcast (and given the time zone difference, I don’t really hear breaking news until the next day). Admittedly, I’m kind of hit-or-miss with the BBC World Service – I listen when I can, but don’t set my watch by it.
His reply? “Well, the BBC World Service should be covering the story.”
And it was. Indeed, I heard the news the next day, and my life was none the worse because of the delay. I can’t say that my worldview was greatly enhanced with the information, either, but at least I could say that I was officially “in the know” after the podcast.
Please know that I’m not here to replay all that has been covered in the news lately – in fact, this is why I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio. Getting my news in a time-delayed fashion works pretty well for me.
The funny thing is that the people at the studio looked at me as if I had said that I ate cryptonite for breakfast or something. Clearly, they couldn’t imagine a world where a person wasn’t glued to breaking news every second of every day, and – heaven forbid! – a life without Twitter? However could one survive?
Quite well, thank you very much.
In fact, I would argue that my life appears to be a whole lot less stressful than theirs, on the whole. Just think of it: Someone on my team let me know that she would not be working for most of this past Thursday, because she had to tune into the news and watch everything as it unfolded. She let me know that her work would be done the following day, so my response to her was a simple one: “No worries.” Why? Well, I wasn’t worried at all, but I thought it was interesting to observe her priorities for the day.
Honestly, I simply do not understand people’s fascination with lewd and disturbing news. Or why they will not take the time to prioritize other important things in life, but will give TV and social media untold hours of their days, to do what? Fill their minds with things that really aren’t all that uplifting, when you stop and think about it.
Am I suggesting a full-on embargo of the news? Certainly not. But it seems to me that we’ve become obsessed with bad news – as if we can’t live a day without it. And I think that this is really unwise – quite unhealthy, really.
After all, I heard the same news that the folks at the studio did the next day – except, the story was summarized in about eight minutes, and was told from a more neutral, global perspective. Gone were the obsessive details about who said what and why, and instead, the focus was on the potential impact of the final outcome of the situation, rather than a blow-by-blow synopsis of what happened.
I do not wish to sound preachy – my apologies if I do. That surely is not my intention. Rather, I simply want to highlight a trend that I find to be a little distressing: Why does our society seem to be so obsessed with negativity?
I don’t have an answer, but in the meantime, I’d like to propose a counterpoint: Let’s focus on things that promote joy, peace, and contentment. In fact, my whole blogging journey to date (nearly two years into this) has been about focusing on the positive. In this case, I’m going to turn this whole perspective around and try to reframe the situation in a way that focuses on hope, rather than on fear:
- I am grateful for the civil liberties (freedom of speech, democracy, safety, etc.) that I so casually take for granted each day. I may not agree with everything that others say and do, but I appreciate that others have fought long and hard many years ago to ensure that I am free today.
- I am grateful that – at the end of the day – my true Hope is not in any elected official, government, or particular political system. I am to respect and honor the leaders that the Lord has allowed in government, but I thank Him that I am not looking to them for my hope and security! No – only the Lord is the Source of true hope. Governments come and go, and kingdoms rise and fall, but the Lord is in charge ultimately – and always will be.
- I am grateful for the blogging community here on WordPress, and how it reminds me that it is possible to enjoy a healthy and productive exchange views – even if we do not agree! – with respect and thoughtfulness.
That’s why I like this verse from Daniel 12 – I love how it makes the connection between the stars in the heavens and wisdom. Come what may, seek the Lord’s wisdom! When we do so, we not only banish the darkness from within ourselves, but also, the manner in which we carry ourselves – and the Light who guides our every word and action – helps to illumine the darkness around us, much like stars do.
So “shine like the brightness of the sky above,” as Daniel encourages us to do. Remember that every thought, word, and action taken that honors God and blesses another person produces a potential impact that may last well beyond our lifetimes – just like the stars. Shine bright!
PS – I just gave the website a refresh. Same theme, different colors. I felt it was time for a change! 🙂