On the day I am writing this, I am currently visiting with a friend in the wonderful city of Statesville, North Carolina. The last few days away have been a much-needed retreat from the real world, but I woke up this Monday morning to the awful news that more violent attacks are ongoing in Ukraine. My heart was in my throat, knowing the people I know that are touched deeply by the ongoing war in that country. To say nothing of those who are deeply affected by news stories that may not be front page headlines every day, but are nonetheless topics folks invest a lot in, ranging from self to state to world. And it made me wonder: At what point do our hearts, minds and souls take precedence over the 24 hour noisy news cycle? At what point do these three things take precedence over things we have deep passions for? Can a happy medium be reached?
I know this is a slippery slope, especially in the times in which we live. The 24 hour news cycle is a hard thing to get out of once caught in it. Couple that with the social media boom, and the fact that anyone can say anything about anything, and you find yourself in a draining, depleting mindset. And that’s just with news stories. What about things we are fiery and passionate about, thing that may not make the headlines routinely, or may not even make the news at all? It’s good to have that drive, that passion, but I believe a healthy dose of moderation is also required, so we don’t find ourselves in the whale’s stomach time and again. After all, it is the testing time once again with humanity. We stand at the precipice of today, with the golden horizons of tomorrow within sight. But storm clouds and lightning bolts lie between us and that, and to traverse these metaphorical storms, we must be well prepared for what lie ahead.
The legendary Paul Harvey once said about the seemingly never-ending news cycle: “Noise makes news. One gunshot makes more noise than a thousand prayers. And we will continue to be attracted to it, so long as the fire which burns others warms us.” And this statement I couldn’t agree with more. The human race has such an obscene fascination with bad news. But I also understand where that fascination may be coming from. We may be broke out with woe and worry and discord and disaster in our own lives, but if we see the news about a village in Ukraine being decimated, or about an athlete with a broken leg or torn muscle, or about stock market numbers plunging, or a small town somewhere getting blown off the map by a tornado or hurricane, we can all feel relatively comfortable in our own lives and positions. We can see the misfortunes of others and say to ourselves, “well, at least I’m not as bad off as those people!” But before you do this, please stop and ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this the way to be?
2) Is it right to make light of the splinters in someone else’s eye, when we have logs sticking out of ours?
3) Is it right to mock and ridicule others’ situations, just because we’re tired of facing our own, or not wanting to face our own?
4) Is it OK for us to bury ourselves in other’s despair or worry or anxiety?
5) Is it OK to substitute what I’m going through with what someone else is going through?
If your answer is no to any of these, I advise you look deep inside yourself and take an inventory of your mind, heart and soul. I used to be one of those who would find some twisted level of comfort in the pain of others. Then I found myself following the news cycle 24/7, and finding that the happenings of the world were replacing my own needs and low points in my life. Every little breaking story would send shockwaves through my being. I found myself losing sleep at night over everything. Someone else’s bad news was something I would revel in. I had to divorce myself from the noisy news cycle before it completely enveloped me. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was a first step in setting boundaries in my own life. And the great thing is, it’s never too late to set those boundaries in your life!
If you feel the fire in your belly by the news stories that impact you, a good place to start would be donating to a worthy cause tied to said news stories, ranging from a local food bank to medical donation websites to storm relief. Spreading the word about notable causes tied to news stories is a much better way of channeling the fire inside one’s self. Another way is to volunteer, if you are able to. So many charitable causes are short-staffed in these trying times, and every helping hand is welcomed. Detoxing from the social media cycle is also highly beneficiary. Try and limit yourself to checking the news cycle just once a day, but if you struggle with that, slowly decrease your time spent on news sites or watching various 24/7 news channels, until the number dwindles downward all the time. And if you find yourself getting caught up in the rat race of the cycles, take a step back and a deep breath, and remind yourself of the positive. Take a look at what’s around you. Go for a long walk. Read, write, listen to music or take a nap. Remember that misfortune for one does not necessarily equal fortune for another. We are all in this boat together, and we must look after one another, if we are to make this work.
I hope this blog finds you well, and in the comments, please feel free to share tips you use for pulling yourself out of the news cycle and into brighter, better mindsets!
As always, take care, much love and may God richly bless,