My friend Gregg Krech, who is the director of the ToDo Institute, told me recently that he and his wife had decided to take a short vacation from the news. When this “vacation” was over, they decided to approach the news in a different way. From now on, he said, they would listen selectively and conscientiously and make a commitment to act upon any disturbing news they heard. They had missed the news about the floods in Pakistan during their news hiatus, and when they returned to selective listening and learned about the floods they immediately made an effort to help people in Pakistan.
I thought this approach to the news was marvelous, but in my work at the Institute for Humane Education, I don’t feel like I can personally take any sort of hiatus from the news, much as I sometimes I long to. The endless and relentless exposure to catastrophes, problems, challenges, atrocities, etc., is dizzying and sometimes numbing. There is no way do to enough and more often than not, outside of educating, I end up doing little.
But most people do not need to listen to the news all the time in order to do their work and be a good citizen, and in fact, they might be a better, more helpful and engaged citizen if they listened less often and responded with more engagement when they did.
If you find that you are becoming numb to the bad news that bombards you, perhaps you should try Gregg’s experiment. Maybe it’s time to pause and replenish and then come to the news with attention, compassion, wisdom, courage, and commitment. Try it for a week. See what happens. Can you maintain a commitment to do something to make a difference each time you do expose yourself to the news. Are you a better citizen this way? I welcome your thoughts and responses.
Author of Most Good, Least Harm and Above All, Be Kind
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Filed under: accurate information, citizen activism, critical thinking, media literacy, news media | Tagged: changemakers, citizen activism, critical thinking, humane education, media and culture, media literacy, mindfulness, news media | Comments Off