Nothing in the news but the blues

Spying. Snowden. Syria. Savar. Banking secrecy. 2013 has brought with it a sibilant hiss of bad luck to various parts of the globe. And there’s still two months to go.

Thus, one might be forgiven to think the world’s going to hell in a hand basket. It’s easy to give up and let yourself slide into a funk, wondering what’s the point of it all. It was all so much better before. At least that’s what people often tell themselves.

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Was it really better before?

But think back. There have been plenty of crises throughout history; times when people thought the Apocalypse was at hand. From 2008 to 2012, for example, there was – to name a very few – the Global Financial Crisis, The Arab Spring, bombers here, bombings there, mass shootings, trapped Chilean coal miners, the Australian Bush fires, Wikileaks, China’s earthquake, Haiti’s earthquake, Fukushima, killings in Norway, Iceland’s volcanoes, the BP Oil spill, and Swine Flu.

That’s quite an extensive list of tragedy and disaster in a five year span. It lends credence to doomsday prophesies of the world ending. Remember the Mayan Calendar scare of 2012? Nevertheless, Earth is still spinning.

Maybe there’s a reason our memory misleads us

A look back even further in time would most likely reveal that the number of calamities which have occurred in recent years is pretty much no more or less than any other year, decade, or generation. The difference is that in the past we were either not yet born or too young to understand or care about the terrible incidents befalling the world. People were also too detached.

Prior to our own birth, anything we know about historical events is hardly more than hearsay. We hear about it and people might say something about it, but we never experienced it. So it doesn’t seem so real. Besides, the fact that we are here implies that those terrible events mean it wasn’t the end, my friend.

As for those historical events that followed our birth, they held little interest to us when we were school children or teens. That’s because as youth, we’re too busy laughing and learning and dealing with the dramas of our own lives. Everything else, barring personal attachment, is processed passively, if at all.

A third possibility might be detachment. In the past, people didn’t have immediate access to events taking place around the globe. Nowadays though, we’re constantly switched on and news travels faster. Therefore, we are inundated with dramatic events. How can we possibly care about any of them?

What can be done?

Nonetheless, people are affected by all these goings on, probably even overwhelmed by them at times. There’s no doubt that the daily deluge that we are constantly bombarded with in the news can bring us down. While it would be a stretch to claim that such events cause depression, they certainly don’t help people feel better or more safe and confident in the world. Regardless, don’t despair.

Life is no better or worse than it was last year, the year before, ten years before, one hundred years before that. So don’t bask in a past that’s been inaccurately made better with age. Don’t let the news of the world beat you down. Instead, enjoy today. The sky is not falling. And neither are you.

That doesn’t mean that we have to be callous and unconcerned. Yet we can’t take care of all the world’s problems. We can take care of ourselves, though.

So get out there and move your body. Interact with the world; get in touch with its people and its nature. Because of news, it only seems like bad luck and trouble are the world’s only friends. Truth is, though, there “ain’t nothing in the news but the blues” (Freddie North).

Tune it out and get out.

By Dan Franch, September 2013. Dan is also a columnist and cartoonist for wort.lu/eng.

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