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Using Nicholas Kristof and Pandora's Box to understand the news in 2016


A year and a half ago, writer and social activist Nicholas Kristof pulled my copy of his book A Path Appears out of my hands and began writing in it.

I waited until I was walking out of the room in which we had just been speaking (I was interviewing him for an article about a recent lecture he had given) to read his message to me.

"Kelly—Hope!" it said.

That's it.

Underneath, his name was sprawled in black sharpie.


I've struggled with the concept of hope my entire life. I have high expectations, I know I do. My gut feelings are strong, my emotional reactions even stronger. Difficulty accepting the most realistic outcomes in certain circumstances when I want so much more has defined a great deal of my life. I worry, I face disappointment, I'm constantly reminded to tone down my passion in order to effectively problem solve. But still, I hope harder than anyone else you'll ever meet.

And this man, this two-time-Pulitzer Prize-winning man, seemed to know that. And encouraged that tendency in me.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, Kristof wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times entitled "Lies in the Guise of News in the Trump Era."

He feels "grim" about Trump's new president-elect status, he wrote. The piece belabored the role of the news agencies we consult on a daily basis played during the election of a man who has neither previous government experience nor a single compassionate bone in his body. Sometimes the mainstream media messed up their coverage of the presidential candidates, he admits. Sometimes they failed to publish information the working class (largely Trump voters) could understand.

There seems to be a disconnect between news coverage and the beliefs of many Americans. Because of technology and the sheer volume of people involved in events such as this major election, more information is moving than ever before. What the members of the media promulgate is easily mixed in with the “hyperpartisan” Facebook posts of your cousin’s best friend’s mother’s next door neighbor.

We’re not holding each other accountable for sharing factual information for the good of enhancing the people’s general knowledge and keeping them in the best position to perform their civic duties. Instead, we’re taking advantage of the gullibility of humans and spreading lies, even if our intentions are more for the purpose of persuading than they are to be malicious for the sake of being malicious. News is supposed to be a report of the truth, grounded in fact. There is no malicious intent in good journalism for the people. We're missing the point when we share information for a certain purpose and only read the opinionated accounts with which we agree.

Kristof complains that we (Republicans, Democrats, the reportedly unbiased journalists) are discrediting well researched statistics and placing our faith in false accounts of the pope endorsing Trump because that’s what’s in front of us and easily consumable. It appears as though we’ve lost faith in ourselves and our ability to sort through the dissemination of failures and successes of those we’ve elected to represent us to the rest of the planet. How can we run a democracy when we don’t know how and aren’t willing to make an effort to ground ourselves in reality and reject jadedness in the first place?

It's funny. It is. How someone like Kristof, who stressed the importance of hope to me 18 short months ago, when I needed it most, now feels so dejected himself. Of course, I know this is short-lived. Anyone who can travel as much as he does and see so many people struggle to even survive can withstand a term of confusion in a Western democracy. There are too many of us willing to hear one another’s ideas and help spread positivity for him to think that this is the year the world ends.

Last week, I heard a metaphor: 2016 is like Pandora's Box. We've opened a flurry of terror upon one another, expressed jealousy, hatred. We've experienced death and strife and sickness and turmoil. Hunger for power and passion have completely frenzied our rationalization.

But hope stayed in that box. A little squished, maybe. Dejected. It was stuck around, though.

So, in 2016, when no one can seem to get along or agree on what the truth is, I ask you to remember: Regardless of level of despair one might feel in reaction to the current state of the world, there is hope.

In the face of the lies we read between the pages and in the tweets, we have hope.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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