Now, like most Americans, I disagree with some of the actions of our president. His middle-eastern policy is too much like Bush’s. The ACA gives too much to insurance companies. He is too pro-business. That said. He not only deserves respect for his position, he deserves balance in how he is portrayed by the media. For the media to tell only one side of the story is to lie. Balance is necessary for truth. We need the joy as well as the darkness.
The lack of balance in our media not only creates imbalance in our perceptions, it robs us of the knowledge that there are positive forces at work in our world. It robs us of the joys in human accomplishment. It robs us of the joys of learning about our natural world. It robs us of the joy of knowing truly inspiring people.
Some media types defend the imbalance saying that the only news is bad news. This is a lie. What is wrong with reporting on the increased survival rate from malaria among African children? What is wrong with telling the story of how people have worked together to provide mosquito nets, medicine and education to help defeat malaria? There is a deep joy in seeing that humans can work together to make dramatic healthy changes. If the story of the battle against malaria gets told it is buried in a small column behind the stories of the horrific atrocities committed by small groups of sick, violent individuals. There is no balance in how the story of humanity is told.
Is it any wonder that some people act out with horrific acts of mass violence when confronted with a world portrayed as completely dark? Why not act out your pain when you can see nothing good coming out of humanity?
We do accomplish good things. We’ve set aside areas of natural beauty as parks for generations to enjoy. We’ve looked into the heavens to see amazing worlds and whole galaxies beyond our own. We’ve expressed ourselves in music that will delight for hundreds of years. We’ve made art and rejoiced in the arts of our past. We’ve learned to integrate with other cultures through art, food, fashion, and technology. These are joyful things. Yet, our media manufactures differences and focuses on fear, violence, and bigotry, frequently resorting to childish name-calling. They rob us of joy.
We have even developed a name for those who steal our joy on the internet. We call them trolls. We’ve all seen them. I suppose if I look back at the comments under the video I saw earlier, someone will have something nasty to say about the president despite the fact that this would be an inappropriate place to voice their complaint. Trolls must make their unbalanced negative comments at every opportunity. Perhaps the trolls are paid to disrupt the joyful moments of others. Perhaps they are so imbalanced themselves that joy is painful to them. They are the Gollums of modern earth. The institution of trolling is a symptom that we are way out of balance in our view of the world.
This habit of focusing on darkness drains us of the energy we need to find the truth and settle our differences as adults should. While it may sound sweet and sugary to talk about joy, joy is essential to building the energy we need to maintain our own health, maintain healthy relationships, maintain healthy communities, and to build a secure future for ourselves and our grandchildren.
This topic of joy and balance is part of my larger effort to form a dialog around the topic of senseless violence in our country. Attempting to find the balance in our lives that will bring us joy is one step toward finding the energy to defeat the ongoing trend toward mass violence.
This week I will have two articles published in The Write Room addressing the need to stop wringing our hands and get on with defeating the problem of mass violence. http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/