Some say that no news is good news. What would people say about too much bad news? The recent spate of killings, disasters and things that can go wrong in the world can turn one quite quickly into a pessimist. After all, it seems that we’re going downhill, humanity is on the brink of collapse and anarchy is right round the corner. Exaggerated as this may seem, reading the news can lead one to think thoughts that do border on extreme pessimism and lead one to think that the only news that we seem to get are of the bad variety.
The terror attacks, hate killings and natural disasters that have been in the news are indeed bad and these seem to dominate headlines and thoughts of people. I’ve often wondered – why does the bad news seem to dominate? Could it be because we’re getting too much information in the first place? I might be oversimplifying things but allow me to explain. As the amount of information generated increases at exponential rates and the amount of information consumed matches this generation, what we have is information being produced and consumed at rates that are impossible for people to consume in totality. The result is the soundbite, the headline or the tweet. To shut out the noise of information, we rely on people to process it for us and we often consume these quite superficially – read the headlines and move on to something that interests us. That’s not a bad thing right?
Probably not but left to their own devices, news agencies and people who make money off the news would want the news to be as interesting or arresting as possible. Like it or not, disaster and tragedy do catch interest more than stories of hope and joy. Morbid as it may be, we are drawn to tragedy, which can be good as we seek to share in the suffering of others, but too much of it can colour our view of human nature and life in general. This inordinate focus on tragedy sells and appeals to the baser, curious and sometimes morbid sides of us all. There’s always news of human triumph and hope but the tragedy tends to overshadow it because it’s just so ubiquitous, so ‘always there’. And it’s hard to run away from it.
Or is it? While some might bemoan the lack of good news, I believe that it could just be that we’re not opening our eyes and hearts enough to really see it. Good news is everywhere, in the newspapers, online and all around us. All we need to do is to be aware of it, sift through the news in a way that brings light to our minds and not dwell in the darkness of the tragedies. To look for the little glimmers of light even within the tragedies to see that humanity is not bad but just a little lost at times, requiring small nudges here and there to bring it back on track.
And that’s where our faith helps us. We’re reminded that we’re called to ‘Go to all the world to proclaim the good news’ (Mk 16:15) and that is what we need to do. The good news, in this case, is not just the news of our salvation through the Lord but the hope and joy that our shared humanity can bring. Just as our Lord shared humanity with us, so we can share the hope and joy in his resurrection with others. We who hope in God’s love (Ps 147:11) will not be disappointed – we who bring this hope to others will ease their disillusionment with the world. As we seek to bring God’s mercy to others, one concrete way is to bring this hope, in the form of companionship, kind words or just forwarding news that uplifts others. That’s bringing the good news. So no news isn’t good news – good news is.