The daily grind of bad news has pulled me down in spirit, lowered my own expectations of what I can and should be doing as a citizen, and it has allowed me, in very subtle ways, to be controlled by corporate messaging.
I am on the patch. I have broken free. I made the true confession: I, Gregory Heming, am a news junkie.
The confession was my first step on the road to recovery.
As a journalist I felt it was my obligation to be connected to worldwide news services.
Every morning I scanned 30 to 35 online newspapers, left-leaning and right, from seven countries.
I was inundated with print magazines, newsletters and contemporary news journals.
I have automatic news alerts streaming into my in-box hourly.
But somewhere over the last month or so I hit bottom. I reached a low — a fog of sorts — through which I could no longer see me or the world around me in a very positive light.
I had the shakes and I was becoming increasingly delusional, slightly paranoid.
Like many addicts, it took a friend’s strong and heartfelt words to bring me out of the fog.
She did this the only way she knew how. It worked.
She insisted I add a few good news sources to my favourites to “kind of balance out my perspective.”
I tell you, when you are ready to learn the teacher is always there.
At her suggestion I added Charity Focus (www.dailygood.org) and Good News Network (www.goodnewsnetwork.org) as a start. Soon after, I networked several others.
My favourites are now absolutely aglow with good and positive news.
I click from one to the other and feel empowered, lifted and, most importantly, I feel hopeful again.
I have begun to get a glimpse of a world gone “good.”
So instead of seeing headlines like “40 per cent of American soldiers serving in Iraq believe in torture,” or looking at photographs of a demented and sick young college killer, two arms extended, a gun in each hand, or reading that a car bomb killed 33 in Iraq and that a Toronto couple was arrested after a child was found chained to his bed, I awoke this morning to the following:
“Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside — children have their own agendas and timescales.
“As they find out more about their world and their place in it, they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices.”
“Reflect on something you are trying to change; are there things that are connected to it that will also need to change?”
“One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news. Many people, giving some of their time, can make history.”
“The government of Madagascar has established 15 new conservation areas encompassing a total of 2.65 million acres (about a million hectares) on the East African island famed for its unique wildlife, (but) which traditionally has had a poor conservation record.
“An estimated 80 per cent of the island plants and animals are found nowhere else on Earth.”
“Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”
“Street Without A Name (SWAN) sponsors collective and collaborative arts and aesthetics projects with the aim of having a positive effect on the problems of homelessness, the environment and urban areas through the arts. Aesthetic projects are produced by homeless and youth with the help of volunteer artists and others.
“Through the ability of the arts to heal, the goal is to develop solutions and resolve conflicts and convey them through highly visible projects. Types of projects include: mosaics, murals, collages, animation, sculpture, artistic skating teams, documentaries, photo exhibits, computer arts, etc.”
After 20 minutes of the “good,” the “bad” is pulled back into perspective.
Mainstream journalism is not giving us the whole picture — the slices it has chosen to sell us are often dark, ugly and controlling.
You and I can help let in the light.
Here’s what I will do:
From now on I will make every effort to pull in the good that is happening around the world, in Canada, and in our communities.
This does not mean I will wear blinders, but I will no longer be shielded from the good, the hopeful and the positive.
Here is how you can help:
Make note of my e-mail address (and notice my new moniker by the way — Gregory Heming writer and optimist) and send me your good news stories.
You can help keep me on the road to recovery.