Values

5 New Year's resolutions for our out-of-touch media. (Hint: Start with some chocolate)

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When someone asks me “What’s the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?” I don’t give the typical answer. I don't point to the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro or Austria’s lavish Schönbrunn Palace -- though each site has taken my breath away. No. My answer is kindness, especially this new year.

As my family walked down the cathedral steps after Christmas Mass, we greeted the homeless outside begging for money. And by “greeted,” I mean my brother hugged each one, while one man told me, "Wait here a minute," shuffled through his backpack, and came back with wrapped box of chocolates.

“No one has touched it, it’s brand new,” he assured me, as he handed over the gift.

Like Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump drawls, "Life is like a box of chocolates." And this box was no different -- except for that it represented all of life’s good chocolates.

Someone I should have given to, gave to me.

It’s little moments like these that our national liberal media miss by staying in their bubbles. At a time when our president-elect repeatedly calls the media biased and the liberal media smear conservative news sites as "fake," writers easily lose themselves in an agenda forgetful of the everyday life.

A recent poll revealed that a majority of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays." But many in the liberal media don’t just ignore that, they also take a step farther by mocking and attacking Christians during this special season.

That’s all part of the disaster that was news in 2016. Journalists need to find a positive way to get past that. To learn how to report with no regrets, we must first learn to live with no regrets.

A palliative nurse from Australia recorded her dying patients’ most common regrets in her book, "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying." She listed their main disappointments as:

1. “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

2. “I wish I hadn't worked so hard.”

3. “I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.”

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Be a fearless you, appreciate life, and focus on relationships: That’s how the dying wished to live. “The fear of death follows from the fear of life,” writer Mark Twain tells us, and, “A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

In order for anyone in the media to write stories that capture people and their lives, we must first come to terms with our own humanity and the humanity of those around us.

That’s an essential lesson for the new year. The media (myself included) should not only report life, but live a life worth reporting. Here are five resolutions, loosely based on the regrets above, for the out-of-touch media to reach Americans again:

1. Go home (and not just for the holidays). Set aside time for family and friends -- people who remind us of who we are and who we want to be.

2. Know your neighbors. Listen to what they care about, and share your thoughts with them.

3. Attend church or another house of worship. Sit in a pew, listen to a sermon, understand Americans who cite a creed above politics and agendas.

4. Absorb beauty. Read a book, visit an art gallery, climb a mountain top.

5. Give to others. Not just money. Send a letter of thanks to a soldier or a note of encouragement to a prisoner.

We must learn about death and what is worth dying for because, in doing so, we learn about life and what makes life worth living.

For me, that’s my faith, my family, my friends, my country, and, I might add, kindness wrapped in a box of chocolates.

It’s a new year, but it’s also a new day, a new hour, a new minute. Let’s use it to make a new you and me, too. 

Katie Yoder is a staff writer for the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute where she is a Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow. Follow her on Twitter@k_yoder.