Watch any newscast for an hour, sans commercials, and you’ll find 43 minutes of ICK and maybe (if you’re ‘lucky’) 3 minutes of ‘good’. Back in the early 70’s, the New York Post tried to deliver only good news. Their sales plummeted. It didn’t take long for some Honcho to figure out that people wanted to hear all the ‘bad’ stuff. So, they went back to delivering what the people wanted. Sales sky-rocketed. HUH?
Before I stopped watching the news (and reading newspapers, and listening on the radio), I would sit there and wonder, “Do you mean to tell me that’s all the good there is in this world? Are you kidding me?” Then, as ‘luck’ would have it, I met someone who I greatly admired and who was doing wonderful work to make the world a better place. He was a successful businessman and a delightful human Being. His was a life I envied, with the lovely family and the twice-annual vacations and the pretty house on the fabulous property, the whole she-bang. As was my norm then, I was sure there was something amiss. I used to think that there just had to be something ‘wrong’ in his world, because nobody could be that happy. Yea. That’s how I used to think. Sad, huh?
Well one day, while having lunch with this divine man, I came right out and asked. “Is your life really that great? Do you really have all that it seems you have? The wife who loves you and the kids with their good manners and honor roll grades? Is it all true or is there some facade you’ve created to fool the rest of us?”
He laughed his big, hearty laugh and took my hands in his. He smiled so gently, with those twinkly eyes and said, “You know, you’re not the first person who’s asked. And I’m quite certain you won’t be the last. But, the answer is, yes, my life really is that good. But it wasn’t by accident.”
He then began to tell me his story. He told me of a childhood filled with hardship and violence. A childhood devoid of love, full of anger. A hard, lonely road from there to college, where he worked to pay his way, without a stitch of help from anyone in his family. He told me this without bitterness or resentment. He was merely telling his story, not reliving it. This, in itself, was something I’d never witnessed before, and the more he spoke, the more enchanted I was. I’d just never heard anyone speak so well of such terrible things. And then there was the love. He glowed with love. This man didn’t have a whisper of hatred in his bones. Astonishing!
After he told me his story, he asked, “Do you watch the news? Or read the papers? Or listen to it on the radio?” I was a little surprised by the question, given what he’d just shared. I couldn’t yet make the connection. I told him, yes, I do. Almost every day. It’s important to stay up on the world’s happenings, don’t you think?
He laughed again. Not at me, rather as a father would laugh at his child’s silliness. Full of love, without judgment. I asked what was so funny. This is when he delivered what would become the seed to my first garden. He told me about the nature of ‘the news’. How the news, like many religions, is there to instill fear. To keep us paralyzed and helpless. To make us think that there wasn’t a single thing we could do but pray “it” never happened to us. He said that the moment he stopped watching the news and began making his own was the day his whole life changed. He was 15 years old. He said that he’d had enough ‘bad news’ for one lifetime and made the decision to focus on all the good that there was around him. He made a conscious choice to create his world, without the influence of those who wished to imprison him. Just like that.
I have to say that it took me a while to process all this. Because, for me, it seemed a bit naïve. My father was one who watched the news religiously, and even put a TV in the dining room so he could watch it while we ate dinner. Can you imagine???? Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. So, for me to even consider not watching the news was almost a sacrilege. But, process I did. I thought about what it might feel like to not be shown all the blood and gore the news delivered so consistently. What it might feel like to focus only on the good around me. What it might feel like to defy my father (which had always given me great pleasure as a teen) and do something so out of my ‘box’ as to allow a new kind of perspective to come forth. So, at my friend’s suggestion, I stopped watching the news for a week. If I happened to have the TV on and some snippet of news popped up, I’d turn it off or change the channel. If someone tried to tell me about some new horror they’d heard about, I’d put my hand up in an instant and tell them to stop. Or I’d simply walk away. I didn’t care at that time whether I appeared rude. I was on a mission to see what it’d be like without bad news. The result?
On the eighth day I knew he was onto something. I felt the shift in my own psyche. I actually felt differently from that week’s abstinence. So, I went another week. And then another. The more time passed, the more I could see how much truth there was to his claim. Because I was looking around me, and all I found was good stuff. I saw people helping other people. I saw kids playing and grandpas laughing and flowers blooming. I saw, all around me, a world full of hope and kindness and good things. Was it because I was focused? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was because there is far more good than there is ugliness in this world. But we don’t see it because that’s not what we’re ‘shown’.
If you think about how many billions of people there are on this planet, and then think about how many of those billions are good people, it would make sense that there is far more ‘good news’ than bad. But the good news doesn’t instill fear, does it? The good news allows us to believe in our own power to affect change, and live well, and spread the love. But if we all did that, then where would the Fat Cats be? If they had no control over us, how could they continue to manipulate and imprison? Well, they couldn’t. Which is why the news is so important to them. Don’t think for one second that the news isn’t controlled. THAT is naïve. I’m not saying there aren’t good, honest journalists out there. But they don’t get to choose what news is delivered. They don’t have that kind of voice. I know this firsthand too. (I’ll spare you that story for now!)
Bottom line is this: Well-being abounds. There is far more ‘good news’ than there is bad. If we could see it all across a TV screen in fast time, the ‘bad news’ would be a mere BLIP on the screen. Nothing more than a nanosecond’s worth. Look around. Look at the good that permeates this beautiful world. Turn off the news. Make your own headlines the way you wish your world to read. If you think I’m being naïve, just try it. Just for a week. No news whatsoever. See how YOU feel when that week comes to an end. How will you know if you don’t give it a whirl?