The downside of the downside
by TRACEY BARNES PRIESTLEY
I DON'T RECALL EXACTLY HOW old I was during the Cuban missile crisis, but when the news hit our house, I ran to our backyard fort and hid. I was old enough to know that the salvaged boards, pieced together with hammered out nails, offered me no protection. Images of the end of the world filled my mind. I wished my Mom was home from work and that we had a bomb shelter like the weird neighbors who lived at the top of the hill.
A short time later, I watched our President get assassinated and later still, my peers got shot in Vietnam. As an adult, I was horrified to learn about the murder of people I knew. On some level, it has been a lifetime of bad news.
However, I don't think my generation is really any different from previous generations when it comes to bad news. Sadness, violence, cruelty, and unfairness have always been part of the human experience. But what is very different is the way the news has been brought directly into our everyday lives. Whether it's television, radio, or newspaper, bad news is a daily part of our existence.
In fact, there is so much bad news that we hardly even react to it on a conscious level. Certainly, there are some stories that make their way through our defense systems. Columbine was one. The nation walked around in collective horror for days. We are certainly still feeling the effects of Sept. 11. But emotionally, we can't really afford to let what's happening in Palestine register too deeply, any more than we can only briefly entertain the reality of the latest child abduction. It's all simply too horrific, and so we protect ourselves.
And while I am the first to say that I believe being informed is a good thing, I also believe we are paying a price for this daily accounting of contemporary life. We have become a fearful, cynical society, one that is often quick to judge and slow to forgive. People feel helpless, overwhelmed by all of the problems that surround them. The resulting apathy can suck the life right out of a society. Too much bad news and we go flat.
So, rather than go flat, I have a proposition. I'm inviting you to join me twice a month for A Little Good News, my new column that focuses on something positive in our community. You will be able to find a story that is constructive or inspirational, happy, or maybe just downright fun.
Hopefully, you will feel a bit of optimism that might alter a notion you've held, motivate you to do something differently, increase your patience in the grocery line, or just make your day a little brighter.
This column won't fly without your help. I'm not just looking for stories on huge financial donations for worthy causes -- although they would certainly qualify. I am equally interested in those little things you see during the course of your day that make you feel good about the human race.
In short, I'm looking for people who are making a difference on every level of our community. Look at your world through a "good news" perspective for a change and tell me what you see.
Call me at (707) 826-2920 or e-mail your good news story. (I will also need your name, phone number, and a good time to reach you so I can get all of the details correct.)
We are a community that provides an enormous amount of caring, problem-solving and support for one another. All I want to do is share the good news with you.
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