A world fed news in the absence of perspective, "news that leads because it bleeds" can only fan the flames of an already anxious public.
What makes "News" newsworthy is that it is unusual, out of the norm and because of that novelty, it grabs our collective attention.
I was speaking to John, a contractor working at my building, on another day of volatility in the stock market, threats to world peace, bailouts, stimulus packages, automotive company meltdowns, more news about "Octomom," yadda, yadda, yadda who seemed rather calm (not to be confused with dull). It was a calmness I envied.
I asked him about it and he replied: "I'm not insensitive to plights of people, but 10 % unemployment means 90 % of people are employed, focusing excessively on punishing companies for giving hundreds of millions of dollars in undeserved bonuses only distracts from coming up with solutions of how to spend the trillion+ in stimulus money to get everything back on track, x hundreds of deaths (on a bad day) in car accidents in the United States still leaves 300+ million alive and safely driving in their cars or on buses, tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of people actively fighting in some war still leaves billions who are not, a single mother with eight newborns to care for still leaves the rest of the entire world taking care of a more manageable number."
I asked him where he learned to be so grounded and maintain such perspective. He told me that growing up his family had meals together, that he would occasionally help his dad out at work and that he used to go on hikes with his grandpa who had a favorite expression that "this too shall pass" that he delivered in a wise vs. dismissive manner. And since that always seemed to happen, he came to believe it.
There is a psychological term called "object constancy" which is the ability to maintain a secure attachment to another person, to a goal and most importantly to hope in the face of disappointment, hurt AND even betrayal. It is a matter of emotional and psychological maturity. The more immature you are, the less object constancy you have and the less able you are to feel disappointed, hurt or betrayed without becoming angry, withdrawn or infuriated respectively. The more mature you are the more object constancy and the more able you are to remain grounded, steadfast and determined in the face of those emotionally upsetting feelings.
Object constancy is built upon nature and nurture, i.e. your biology (genetics and temperament) and how you were raised (and the social environment around you). Given the loss of the calm and nurturing environment that John grew up in (even "caring" parents seems all too rushed keeping their kids busy and therefore raising human doings instead of human beings) and that harried and often divorced parents are yelling at their children to get dressed, do their homework, etc., we are left to receive more of our "perspective" from the news, the internet, blogs and other media.
All such sources of information seem to be drinking from the same "adrenaline rush" kool aid and too often follow the "If it bleeds, it leads" dictate. And if that leading news is now becoming the source of perspective and having a significant influence on the nurture (and nurturers) that cause children, young adults and now even older ones to develop and keep perspective, the media needs to step back and feed people a balanced and objective view of life so they can calm down and they can get back on the road to a saner existence..
An epilog to my conversation with John. He was working at my building to clean out his fifty something wife's office. She was a non-smoker who had recently died after a six month bout with lung cancer.
I told him how sorry I was. His eyes watered, he thanked me and said: "This too shall pass."