I had a reply on a forum I belong to today. The poster stated that she believed that most people are, “self-aggrandizing, greedy pompous twits”. Sometimes I agree with that… and it frustrates me to no end how stupid people can be sometimes, and yes, selfish and greedy. But that too is a matter of perspective. There are very many people who are not like that. There are a lot of people who are doing a ton of good in the world… there are bright and giving and innovative people… lots of them.
I didn’t know that for the longest time, and I despaired.
I can only relate my own experience but a few years back I read something on positive thinking (ya ya I know.. a lot of it is woo – but stick with me) because of depression… and it suggested something interesting. It suggested that one stop consuming ‘news’, especially television but also newspapers, and engaging in gossip (commiseration in particular). It said that people need reasons to bond and one of the easiest ways is to bond in shared misery, as well bonding in joint criticism. It stated that these were the basis of most media news these days but that it was a false way to bond, and build community in the long run. I thought about it, a lot.
It was a challenge to stop watching TV altogether. (And radio news and newspapers as well)
I did… for over a year.
Then it suggested seeking out the good reports, finding the news that is about the good people do, people to look up to – role models if you will. So I did (the internet makes it much easier than before) and what I found startled me. No, not Mother Teresa… but hundreds of stories of regular people doing awesome shit. Teenagers, kids, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, seniors… sometimes little things like grass-roots fund-raising to build a community center in the arctic, or teenagers starting a gay/straight alliance club at their high school, or people cleaning up a neighborhood, or visiting seniors and the handicapped, or cat rescue. Sometimes bigger things like KIVA -small loans made to small business owners all over the world, or political lobbying, or stopping some big corporation from ruining another wetland, or creating a community garden, creating a co-operative, or taking family volunteer vacations to help dig a well in Africa… or even writing blogs that inform us normal average folks about issues and stirring up activism. The creativity and philanthropy I actually found was staggering – much more than any large organization does. I think many more people would contribute this way if the truth were known. It is not uncommon and people have tons of power to make changes, and there are people doing it. There are lots of them.
I came to the conclusion that most of the news we get is woefully unbalanced and biased. It’s NOT THE TRUTH, about people or events, at all. It’s easy to see the world as cold and selfish and greedy when 99% of the reports we get are about the bad guys, and the disasters, and ‘doom and gloom’ forecasts, and the greedy and the fear-mongers propaganda. It disenfranchises people and makes us all feel helpless and powerless – it creates a dependent victim mentality, it separates and divides, and it is BULLSHIT.
It’s all bullshit, on every level; local, national and global.
But like anything worthwhile – finding the good stuff takes effort. Choosing to pick up the damn spoon and feed ourselves, instead of passively accepting what is given us takes effort.
I still avoid the news… to a point. I still watch very little TV, and I never listen to radio news. And guess what? I’m no longer depressed… and I have much more hope for the world than I did before (and way less anxiety and contempt for mankind) and to this day I actively seek out the good stuff – because it’s real and it’s big, and that’s the world I want to be a part of.
These are some good things I follow:
http://www.globalgoodnews.com/ (I don’t follow the Maharishi – but the links to good stories in inspiring)
What do you do to find out what people are really doing? How do you stay positive in the avalanche of negativity that is our modern media?
Do you believe people are intrinsically good?