“Optimism is a force multiplier.” – zcp quoting someone else
Each morning I read the news and each morning the news backs me into a corner of pessimism. In capital letters and bold fonts, headlines scream of genocide, war, plans of war, violence - systematic and singular but always horrific – civil strife, and seemingly insolvable historic struggles. Death. Bombarded by constant reports of death the natural place to end up is that corner that does not allow hope for humanity.
Newspapers, radio stations, magazines, web sites, blogs, and TV channels – the media – scramble for an ‘angle’ that presents information about the same event in a way that is unique and distinct from the thousands of other news agencies. In this they fail, there is no diversity of opinion or perspective, all roads lead to pessimism. There are no reports of life or love, only death.
So do not read the newspaper, read the life you live and the world you see. This world is full of love, it is all around us all the time. Neglect sensationalist, oversimplified banners and look.
Perhaps we can make the case that death is the constitutive ingredient to a ‘story,’ the ingredient that makes an unfolding “newsworthy;” the conclusion of life – the definitive aspect of existence – is what makes an event consequential. But the rationale behind hourly broadcasts of death and destruction is not to honor life, the rationale is something else, something that dehumanizes and perverts our value of them. In ‘covering’ death we do not honor life.
We need to know what is going on in the world, we cannot shy away from the gruesome but neither can we allow our appreciation for this world to be blunted by pessimism. For every headline there are thousands of smiles. Indeed, what better place than from smiles, acts of kindness and love, to summon strength and fight the injustices we know.
All around me I see people trying, laughing, working, hoping, believing, helping, loving. I see skinny security guards in baggie uniforms welcoming me in unfamiliar corporate lobbies. I see a cute, fat boy punch his friend and watch them laugh with mischievous looks in their eyes.
A daughter helps her hunchbacked mother up the stairs of a restaurant for a Saturday night family dinner. I see a group of old Chinese women with up-dos to make the Golden Girls jealous, wrinkled skin and joy in their eyes as they share tea. I see a family picnic on a mat on the sidewalk, a mother holding her world, her baby, in her lap as she sleeps quietly. I see proud fathers taking their sweaty, sunburned sons home from soccer and their daughters for a special ice cream on a Sunday afternoon. An in-love couple flirts on the train. In the park, an old man does Tai Chi with no shirt on. I hear the women in our office laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I see small, family businesses struggling to get by, four generations living above their food stall and shop. I see high school students prowl the mall looking for girly girls and boyish boys for crushes and almost conversations. I see toddlers giggle as they smear ice cream all over their face, and eat some too. I see a father and son run a noodle stand and laugh the entire time.
I do not see hatred or feel malice. Everywhere around me I see infinite reasons to believe in our world. For every one, single act of hatred that we read of in the news, hear on the radio or watch on TV, there are thousands of acts of love. They just don’t make the headlines.