The news. Even the sheer name of it is enough to send some people into an anxious spiral, conjuring images of the dying and destitute, illness and war and tragedy. It seems now more than ever that the headlines we hear or read via television, print, radio, or even app are heavy with sorrow and -- all too often -- sensationalized for a maximum reaction. This is the world in which we live, and it isn’t always a happy one. In fact, it’s easy to watch the news every night and believe there is nothing beautiful or worthwhile remaining out there in the vast unknown. It’s easy to abandon keeping up with current events altogether, which is what many people have already done. After last week’s explosion in Chelsea (which bombarded my phone with alerts from the three news stations that send me notifications), I felt the need to compose my thoughts on the subject and put it out there once and for all why I still believe in keeping up with the news.
This world is not all it seems. From the other side of the television or the phone, peering in at the stories selected for the day, it can be difficult to imagine life as anything other than a Sisyphean cycle of hurt and dejection. But it is more than a mosaic of broken spirits; in fact, it’s so much more that I can hardly describe it. Yes, there is undoubtable pain out there, pain many of us living in free countries can hardly fathom. But there is also great joy. The spectrum of human emotion is not limited to the negative, and the healers, carers, dreamers, lovers, laughers, and teachers still exist, even if they are often overshadowed by the ever-present violence and terror that plague our society. As long as humans inhabit this planet, these qualities will continue to thrive, bulletproof. Watching the news can be depressing, but it only shows one window into the world. Just because the good in life isn’t constantly broadcast doesn’t mean it no longer exists.
Ignoring the Syrian refugee crisis will not resolve it. Pretending Paris, Brussels, Orlando, and Nice are not grieving because they are so far away that they seem surreal will not change the fact that many peoples’ realities have been irrevocably shattered. Some people refuse to acknowledge the burden of these tragedies, but more often than not they aren’t even the ones living them. We have a place in this world for a reason, and it isn’t to withdraw into our comfort and carelessness while those without either of those luxuries struggle onward.
I’m not insinuating that those who choose not to keep up with current events are ignorant or selfish. In fact, I see their logic. After all, who yearns to sit in front of a television or check their phone to see news of another deadly terrorist attack or new political buffoonery? No one does. But I believe wholeheartedly that being informed on what’s happening fosters a better community, local and global, and that change is forged from discomfort, not complacency. If someone doesn’t like what they see on the news, let it stir their heart and make them take a stand. There are some things normal people can’t change, but there’s too much at stake not to try.
I have three news apps on my phone. I say this not out of some sort of twisted arrogance but from a perspective of someone who knows what it’s like to look down and see an update that makes me want to vomit. I have wept at photographs, and I have been driven to insomnia by worrisome words that replayed through my brain. This can be a dark world, indeed. There’s no disputing that. But I couldn’t feel right about shutting it all out so I can feel like there’s nothing wrong. Sometimes, the things that are burdensome, the things that are tragic, happen right next door. And if I don’t know about them, how am I supposed to help?