Newsroom: Is the World Getting Worse?

From the LDS Public Relations arm, led by former Assistant Church Historian and Recorder, Richard E. Turley:

Hope is realistic about the bad, but it chooses to deposit its money in the bank of the good. Pope Francis touched on this in his January 2017 address to communicators around the world, where he encouraged journalists to lift their sights higher than the smog of constant bad news.

“We have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news,’” he said. “I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news.’”[1]

The Newsroom notes work toward this end:

Individuals of other faiths also let their light shine. For example, a July 2016 profile in the New Yorker focuses on one Christian woman’s quest to answer God’s call to be a hospice nurse. Heather Meyerend says she chose that vocation because she wanted to “care for the whole person” — a desire rooted in her belief that “God had created bodies for a reason and that they mattered a lot.”[2]

Another example comes from a February 2017 Los Angeles Times profile of Mohamed Bzeek, a Muslim foster parent in Los Angeles County who takes in terminally ill children. He currently cares for an immobile 6-year-old foster girl who is blind and deaf and has daily seizures. Though challenging, Bzeek says, “I always talk to her. I’m always holding her, playing with her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.” The key, he says, is to love her and others he cares for as if they were his own children. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”[3]

Such quiet one-on-one ministry happens every day by unseen multitudes who quietly live for God without need of acclaim. Acts of goodness should never be done for recognition, but knowing about them can breathe fresh air into the mind of a public jaded by unceasing headlines of violence, partisanship and poverty.

Though these examples come from people of faith, one need not be religious to reach out or recognize the remarkable goodness of our age. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote that despite negative headlines, 2017 may be the “best year ever” thanks to important technological advances to improve health and eradicate extreme poverty.

“What’s infinitely more important [than bad news],” Kristof writes, “is that [every day] some 18,000 children who in the past would have died of simple diseases will survive, about 300,000 people will gain electricity and a cool 250,000 will graduate from extreme poverty.”[4]

In a world awash with information, the good as well as the bad help us see “things as they really are” and as they can be.[5] We are not helpless creatures before the forces of negativity. We are actors. We shape society by the information we choose to accentuate. Hope begets hope. The world doesn’t have to get worse. It can get better.

———–
[1] In Josephine McKenna, “Pope Francis Calls on Media to End ‘Constant Focus on Bad News,’” Religion News Service, Jan. 24, 2017, http://religionnews.com/2017/01/24/pope-francis-calls-on-media-to-end-constant-focus-on-bad-news/.

[2] In Larissa MacFarquhar, “A Tender Hand in the Presence of Death,” The New Yorker, July 11 and 18, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/11/the-work-of-a-hospice-nurse.

[3] In Hailey Branson-Potts, “‘I Know They Are Going to Die’: This Foster Father Takes in Only Terminally Ill Children,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 8, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-foster-father-sick-children-2017-story.html.

[4] “Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever,” New York Times, Jan. 21, 2017, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/opinion/sunday/why-2017-may-be-the-best-year-ever.html.

[5] Jacob 4:13.

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3 Responses to Newsroom: Is the World Getting Worse?

  1. Clark Goble says:

    Follow humanprogress.org on Twitter to get stats on how the world just keeps getting better. A nice counterbalance to all the bad news in my Twitter feed. It has a very slight libertarian bias – but not enough to matter. (It’s done by Cato) Most of the stats are just ways things are getting better.

  2. Clark Goble says:

    Whoops. I mean this link: https://twitter.com/humanprogress

  3. WVS says:

    Thanks for the link, Clark.

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