No News is Good News

but almost all news is no news

We have become a society that lusts for news. We perch hungrily for the latest scandal and are eager to see our enemies demeaned by the latest bit of information we squeeze from an ill-written headline. Increasingly it seems, no news is good news.

good news

photo credit: Oliver Klein, unsplash.com

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know my political choice for president. Not surprisingly, the majority of people I know don’t read my posts. So I’ve been fielding a lot of conversation about that.

Those visits usually begin with, “Well, I guess you’re happy about the presidential election results.” And then, I must honestly reply, “No, I’m not.” Living in conservative West Texas, I can usually expect the person to physically step back from me and then set my watch for about two minutes of disbelief and, sometimes, horror.

Evidently, the two minutes is about the average amount of time it takes for people to recover from shock and to realize, “Oh, it’s not a big deal, because my candidate won.” Something about winning and smugness usually prompts them to say, “Well, I love you anyway.” I wonder each time if they would be saying that if the results had been different. It’s easy to be magnanimous when you’re the winner.

Oddly, I bear no ill-will towards most of these folks because they, like me, took the information they had, applied some standards, and made a choice. That’s the way this works and, despite complaints, it is a pretty good system. If you read my personal call to action right after the election, you know that my first step was to be willing to admit I’m wrong . . . occasionally . . . every once in a while. Maybe I was wrong about Mr. Trump. I just want to be clear, the evidence is still out. I borrowed the “I just want to be clear” statement from President Obama. I can see why he likes it so much.

In the past, things seemed to be clear to me. Recently, when I’ve had conversations with people who show genuine interest in why I voted as I did, I’ve come to expect a measure of frustration and futility. It seems that we, as a nation, have no place to turn for accurate news. The main stream media — on both sides of any issue — have proven to be largely biased. Cable news and internet news is driven by advertising and sensationalism.

So, no news is good news.

I know that there are journalists out there who are working hard at their craft in investigation, fact-checking, and writing. I’ve read a lot of well-researched, coherent articles in the last six months written from many perspectives on the political spectrum. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have time to read anything in-depth, much less think about the message enough to ask questions and to engage in a personal level of inquiry.

We settle for the headline. We allow our hunger for outrage to be fed by illogical, inflammatory missiles that, most often, have little to do with actual events. Or, we revel in the mucus of stories that are simply created to do harm to some ideology or some individual. Fake news sources are profiting from our willingness to allow misinformation to be the main event in the blood sport of public rhetoric.

 It’s time to take back objectivity. We need to open our eyes and look for truth. We need to be able to trust again. We need to receive good news. Please don’t fall prey to the purveyors of sensationalism. Such behavior is an addiction. 

 

Get to know people. Talk to them. Differ with them. Make honesty and truth a vital component of any relationship. Perhaps the media will pick up on that and learn that good news — “good” meaning accurate and balanced — sells.

The Beautiful Side of Opposition

When I hit the “publish” button on my blog site a few days ago, it was with some fear and apprehension. In that moment I had chosen to not only signal my lack of support for Mr. Trump for president, but also to report that I had voted for Mrs. Clinton. I knew that many, if not most, of my friends on social media and in real life would be surprised. In fact, I assumed that some would be angry. I made that post expecting another migration of “friends” from my Facebook account. I underestimated the opposition.

I did have a few people express disappointment in me. One, a friend from my school days, was forthright in her statement that I was in favor of socialism. I get that. To her credit, she put that aside and remains connected to me. That story was just one of many, however, that let me hear disagreement and acceptance. That is the beautiful side of opposition. That is the miraculous side of difference.

[ASIDE: By the way, I’m not a socialist in the political sense. But in terms of my feelings toward others, I am a “socialist.” As I stated in the earlier post, I think we’re all better together. And I was simply calling for us all to stand up against “anti-socialism” — in the people sense. If you are struggling to find a pigeon hole for me, I’m a compassionate capitalist. I think our vocations can build prosperity for all of us through personal and community effort. I believe that the majority people are searching for a way to contribute and that, in some cases, we have largely failed in making those opportunities available.]

 

Some of the most special moments were in comments I received from those who voted differently, but who obviously read every word I had written. And then took time to respond. That’s conversation. Uncomfortable in some contexts, but ultimately life-giving. Often their direct statements of difference were packaged in expressions of love and friendship. Beautiful.

And then there was the affirmation of those who felt aligned with what I wrote. Thanks to those of you who also left your comfort zone to do that and those of you who have been my examples in sharing their thoughts and positions freely and without fear.

With a few exceptions, notes of encouragement from all perspectives refreshed me, reassured me, and restored me to my confidence in people. We have a lot of work to do as we witness the aftermath of a time in our country when we were made to believe that power could be captured only by being divisive and seeding conflict. Indeed, the destructive behavior we are witnessing post-election attests to the fact that the simple act of a choosing a leader does not quiet the storms evoked by real needs. Or the fears.

Fear still reigns in our country. It’s not enough to say, “Don’t be afraid.” Instead, we should attack fear by standing together.

Stand for justice. Stand for mercy. Stand for people.

The beautiful side of opposition emerges from the darkness when we do that.

Voting Early

fear and relief in one action

People are rushing to the polls and voting early.  They’re driven by fear and seeking relief.

It’s not so much the same fear that has driven so much of this political season — the fear of others, the fear of loss to entitlement. It’s the fear that yet something else will be revealed about one or both of the major party candidates that will give the voters pause on their electoral decision. It’s a fear of being forced to wade back through the grit and the slime that has dominated this presidential race.

And it’s not really relief about the candidate they’ve chosen and the job he or she will do. There is that, of course. But it is a relief from doing what can be done and letting the rest of it go. It’s a relief to know that our personal role in this entire debacle is coming to a turn in the road.

Now that we’re done voting early, it’s time to take that turn on move on. There will be things to do. For one thing, we all have to come together to find a new source of leadership. This, what we have, has proven unworkable — regardless of how you vote or which party you claim.

Yes, your fear is subsiding and you feel some relief from voting early. But it’s time to get up and move toward something better. History repeats itself. People have been in worse spots before. And they have emerged, fearless and calm. Shall we ?

Freedom’s just another word for another race to lose . . .

Starting-LineAlmost all conflict, all anger, all war, all anxiety comes from fear. Fear adds an edge to all we do. It’s a voice that says, What if?

But another voice that emerges from conflict, anger, war, anxiety is that of hope. It, too, is a voice that says, What if?

If the election and the campaigns leading up to it have instilled fear . . . don’t ask, What if? as in fear. Ask, What if? as in hope.

New Voices

dealing with change

This is a personal post. Turn back now if you don’t want to go there. However, I’m talking with many people — at all stages of life — who share my experience. Perhaps this will strike a chord. You see, I once had a plan for my life. Or should I say, my life has been a notebook full of plans. At each turn in my existence, I had a clear idea of what I would be and where I would go and when I would reach certain milestones. Now I’m hearing new voices.

new voices

(photo credit: Kalen Emsley/unsplash.com)

My latest life plan, the one that is now stuffed in a back pocket of that notebook, was to finish out my career in place and continue to serve in those comfortable spots I had already found. By that I mean, I would just do what I’ve been doing for the past 16 years, slowing slightly, and then quietly exiting. But then I heard new voices in vocation.

Those new voices have planted a challenge to do exciting things with a renewed purpose, as well as the elements needed to make those things happen. The new voices I’m hearing about my vocation are strong, encouraging, and clear.

My life plan is missing, though.

There is a chilling quietness from the voices that speak to the rest of my life. I’m not lost. I’m not without direction. I just haven’t begun to listen for or hear the new voices — the voices about personal things and spiritual things. Because of the emerging plans at work, personal and spiritual life has been disrupted. Not shattered, but disrupted.

How about you? Do you long for new voices? Do you feel you’ve become mired in what has been and do you long for what will be? Are you drifting just a bit?

From some good mentors, I believe I am beginning to hear the whispers of what will be strong new voices. Let me share what they’re saying — just in case you’re straining to hear as I am.

  1. Spend most of your energy listening.
    Although I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked to be quiet over the past six decades, I’m confident that I have rarely taken that advice to heart. Be quiet. Experience the peace that comes when you watch the river calmly flow past.
  2. Dwell on good things . . . about people, about your position in life, about your future.
    There’s more than enough of these to keep you occupied and thankful.
  3. Fill your time with meaningful and valuable activities.
    Whenever possible, be with family and friends — listening and sharing. (For my fellow introverts, spend a little time scheduling your alone-times. There’s time enough for everything. We often use the excuse of our introversion to avoid what we may need the most.) Read good books. Watch worthwhile media. Sing along with uplifting songs. Take walks. Pray . . . a lot.
  4. Don’t despair over what you don’t know.
    Anxiety is simply the fear of what hasn’t happened yet. Let go. Find the next best step for you to take and joy in knowing it’s there.
  5. Be hesitant to give advice.
    (I hope you smile a bit as you think about the irony here.) Instead, ask questions. Not as cross-examination, but as a curious friend. What will you do next? How are feeling? Why do you think that (whatever “that” is) happened?
  6. Wait.
    Let time, let God, do what time and God do.

I am confident that a new life plan is emerging — both for me and for you. And I’m blessed that your life plan will make mine better.