Claudia and I were in bed reading Cosmopolitan (me) and The Economist (she) at 2 in the afternoon. I pointed out a fascinating article in Cosmopolitan: “Why the Vagina Might Feel Weird After Sex.” Claudia, in turn, pointed out an article in The Economist: “Power Struggle in the Vatican”. There were bright lights turned on us and two people from PBS were there to videotape this momentous occasion (video coming next month). As part of this, I got a bunch of newspapers from that day. I haven’t bought any newspapers in about two years so it was like these weird artifacts spread out through the room. I perused the headlines. This was all on July 11.
You would think that July 11 was the worst day in history. Just like we have 9/11 as this day of reverence and memory (“don’t forget!”) we should also have July 11, 2012, the way the newspapers present it.
Here are some of the headlines from about three papers that day:
“Afghan exit will cost billions” (I didn’t read the article but since our entry cost trillions, why is this such a big news story? Better to keep killing babies instead of spending billions?)
“After Russian Floods, Grief, Rage, and Deep Mistrust” (oh my god! RAGE! DEEP MISTRUST! I better go there and help).
“Scandal Shakes Trading Firm” (I really wonder what day in history that headline is not true for every trading firm)
“China Lifts Spending as Growth Weakens” (I feel like I’ve read that article at least five times a year for the past 15 years)
“Greek Far Right Hangs a Target on Immigrants – Rising Violence Seen” (oh my god, another article about how horrible Greece is! Greece didn’t like immigrants in 200 BC so why would they like immigrants now?)
“The rotten heart of finance” (we needed to be reminded of that)
“The jihadists frightening new front?” (What? Jihadists want to kill us?)
And, of course, the always powerful: “Hungry again”. Because you know if you are a newspaper or magazine editor there’s always someone in the world is hungry. In this case (I read the first paragraph) 19mm people in “the Sahel”, wherever that is.
And if you think that throwing away the newspapers and turning on TV is going to cheer you up, one final headline: “Breaking Bad to get Darker”
Oh, shame on you James! Shouldn’t you be a little more aware of what is happening in the world? How can you help people if you aren’t aware of the pain and suffering everywhere else.
What helps people is if I am feeling good first. If I am feeling refreshed and healthy and inspired and positive. Then that helps the people around me be more positive and inspired. And that creates a ripple effect. Society is made up of individuals. If you are positive, then it spreads to the people around you. Eventually that creates the tiniest of effects in the situations all around the world that are negative. The more people working in happiness within, the more the situations around us and throughout the world will resort to positive and sustaining solutions.
Reading about 19mm people starving in Sahel won’t help a single one of them. I’m not going to send food to them. I’m not going to convince their leaders to be less corrupt. I am corrupt and selfish. I’m scared. I’m anxious. How can I convince them to be less corrupt than me.
Reading about the violence Greeks “might” do on immigrants won’t help those immigrants at all. Won’t do anything except harden me more to a defeated world.
Exercise: The News Diet:
For ten days don’t read any news. Whenever you feel the temptation to be “aware” of the outside world, try to be aware first of something inside of you. Instead of feeling sorry for some situation you have no control over, try to be grateful for a situation happening to you right now. Don’t give more power to the multi-billion dollar media corporations that are exploiting your evolutionary tendency to fear predators. If you really want to, then fine. But wait ten days.
You won’t be defeated by predators in those ten days. You don’t have anything to be scared of. The media companies are scared and they want company.
Hang out with me for a little bit instead.