Sunday, November 11, 2012

How can you believe that people are basically good?

Is it because you live in a quiet rural area where we have mostly white people you can relate to and who relate to you? Believe me, there are places where, if you lived there, you wouldn’t think people are basically good. 
What about those places where people drive through and shoot into houses, where families have to crawl from room to room to keep from getting shot? Do you think those people are good?

I had to answer this line of questioning and I’ll share my words here.
I know I am fortunate to live in a place where I feel safe, where the people I encounter are decent folks. I know I am lucky to live where I can meet total strangers and smile at them and say hello without worrying about any repercussions. But I don’t believe my situation is all that different from most of the people living in this country.

Sadly, we hear on the news media only the most heinous crimes of the day, and we see them over and over. With all the television networks covering “news” there is not enough to keep news fresh all day, so they show the crimes over and over until another terrible thing happens to some person the next day in Atlanta or New York or L.A.

While that horrendous crime took place, millions of good people were going about their daily routines with no news coverage at all. Millions of nurses were caring for sick people. Millions of teachers were working to teach young children how to better live in this world. Mothers were caring for babies. Fathers were working at ordinary jobs earning a living.

I am afraid the average person who watches news channels all day long gets a skewed idea of what life in this country is really like. In fact, older retired men and often women do watch cable news all day long. A friend in Florida says she is surrounded by "angry old white people."A doctor in Texas explained it best to me. If a human being watches bad news, frightening news, over and over all day, it wrecks his nervous system and depresses him because he can’t fix any of these problems.

One of the major causes of depression is being loaded down with responsibility but having no authority to control the situation. When the story is told over and over on TV, and the person watching becomes more and more agitated over what he is seeing, he gets frustrated and upset. He can’t go to Iran or Libya and do anything to help. Without his knowledge the media is manipulating him. He becomes angry and has to turn this emotion on something or someone. His anger toward a situation becomes anger toward the president or the government, or anyone he thinks has power to do something.
He believes that every murder in a ghetto in New York is the norm for all people who live there because he sees it over and over on the News. He sees that neighborhood as a place filled with nothing but bad people. I don’t see that. In every neighborhood, even here in the mountains, some people resort to crime. A man was killed while washing his car in a rural community by two low-life punks passing through. In fashionable communities in Atlanta, we see on TV, a man killed his wife or a nanny killed the children she cared for. But that doesn’t mean that all the people who live there are bad.

I have never seen so many angry people as I have the past four years. Most of these people don’t really have any reason to be that angry. Often they are angry over something they heard or saw on TV News. They have nice homes, live well, and if their lives were the same as forty years ago, and they were at work all day instead of watching the news channels, they would be happy and enjoying life. We are letting others control our happiness when we watch the pundits on TV and become emotionally unhinged over what they tell us - some true and some not true facts.

I challenge anyone who feels angry about politics or the way our country is heading to drop out of the news all day syndrome. That includes online news as well. Besides being bombarded by TV and radio, we have the latest news flashing at us when we turn on our laptops. I went to Hawaii for ten days and did not watch any news at all during that time. What a wonderful vacation! Not just because of the beautiful beaches, the ocean breezes and watching the chickens scratching the manicured lawn beside the pool at the Marriott Resort on Kauai, but the silence, the absence from the never-ending-talk about politics on every media channel.

If you can’t go to Hawaii, just turn it off and tune it out. Like my wise husband, Barry, used to say, “Why worry about it when you can’t do anything about it?” His positive nature was a breath of fresh air and I am trying to breathe that fresh air now. He would not talk about politics and hated when I did. However, he always voted.

Now that this election is over, I hope we can find other things to discuss, other things to watch on TV, and if we don’t feed the monsters, the news channels, maybe they will go away or at least go back to giving unbiased news coverage. I know Ted Turner, when he started CNN, never meant to build a monster that would multiply and tear our country apart.


Gay said...

I agree whole heartedly, Glenda. you know that Barry and I thought the same way on this and that I hate to talk politics. Most of the time I am a happy person, and if I'm not, it isn't because I'm angry over some news item or some drivel from the online community.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Yes, Gay, you are not easily frustrated over the way of the world. That keeps your personality sunny, too.