15 October 2009

Oft in the lone church yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonshine chequering thro' the trees,
The school boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up
    - "The Grave" by Robert Blair

Here is a sampling of the headlines I faced when I went to Google News this morning. It's not for the faint of heart to read:

"Gunmen, Bombers Hit 4 Sites in Pakistan; 37 Die," "Stagnant Consumer Prices Prevent Social Security Benefit Increases," "'Miracle' Mom: Swine Flu Almost Killed Pregnant Woman," "Dad Released From Japanese Jail in Custody Fight," "US Stocks Drop After Goldman, Citigroup Results; Alcoa Falls," "Stagnant Consumer Prices Prevent Social Security Benefit Increases," "Allies Push Israel for Gaza Probe," "North Korea Warns of Possible Naval Clash With South," "Clinton Calls for Joint Missile-Defense System on Russia Trip," "Mom of Son Set on Fire: It's 'Disgusting'," "Fact Check: Health nsurers cherry-pick facts," "Health care: Public option gains traction," "Majority of Nobel jury 'objected to Obama prize'," "Hidden Costs of Medicare Advantage," "Missing laptop contains data on 800,000 doctors," "Corzine Can't Count on Open-Space Bonds for Environmentalists," "Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 a year, harm millions," "US Math Tests Find Scant Gains Across New York," "Model Claims Ralph Lauren Fired Her For Being Fat," "Harley-Davidson's Profit Plunges," "One (or two) years on - they have learnt nothing," "Marathon winner disqualified for wearing iPod," "Is Your Digestive System Making You Sick," and "Former Teacher's Aide to Change Plea in Child Rape Case."

Not very pretty, is it?

This is a snapshot of what's going on in the world, and in the course of any twenty-four hour period, it changes. The problem I have is that it never seems to get better, or less miserable. Seriously, with so many crises coming at me daily from every corner of the planet, battles over health care, education, economics, politics, privacy, ecology, religion, sex, and athletics, my stomach churns, and frequently I feel like weeping as I read these unending accounts of man's inhumanity. To everything, and everyone.

When I was much younger, I suffered from recurring nightmares in which nuclear bombs exploded, crazy-eyed and hatchet-wielding maniacs chased me through a neighborhood where all the doors were locked, and monsters waiting to devour me lurked in darkened rooms. It took years of hard work to banish those night terrors. I'm worried that if I continue to expose myself to the news, the nightmares will return with a vengeance.

I'm not now sure it's possible to read the news on a daily basis, and remain sane. I think it's time I declare a personal moratorium on horror, cruelty, and insanity. I stopped watching television news years ago, because I didn't want the awful images burned into my memory. Today, I will stop reading the internet news, for the exact same reason.

I know that evil exists, and I know the problems being reported are real. However, I also know that being fed this stuff on a daily basis is diminishing the quality of my life. After reading for ten minutes, I'm frequently sad, frightened, and anxious. The effects linger--they're like a bad smell that I can't escape. I want more control over what makes its way to the space between my ears.

And the coup de grĂ¢ce that cemented this decision for me? "No More Jon & Kate After November."

The horror. The horror.

Excuse me. I need to go wash out my eyes with soap.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Well, I must admit that I don't read a daily paper. I stopped reading news off the Internet. AND, I don't even listen to public radio for news anymore because it was so depressingly repetitive.

Not to say it isn't important to stay informed. Just that we have to choose carefully how we do it. Hard to send positive energy into the Universe when all we take in is the negative. Yet happy headlines don't sell products...sigh!