Two Types of News Watchers

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In recent days, it seems that the news on the tube or the Internet has first been gruesome, and then disappointing. To the passive news watcher, this one-two punch of negativity saps the soul of serenity and joy.

The good news, though, is we can watch the news, even bad news, without being passive. The active news watcher tunes in, not for the sake of morbid curiosity or merely to be entertained by what’s already happening, but rather to know what else should be done. He watches to analyze and make decisions about changing his life and the world for the better.

First, a look back at the gruesome content for context:

Yesterday in Savannah, Ga., a convicted child molester, George Edenfield, was indicted on charges that he molested and then murdered his neighbor, a 6-year-old boy. Also indicted for the same crime were his parents! Yes, according to the charges, Mr. Edenfield's mom and dad allegedly watched and participated in the assault and murder! The boy's body was found in a black trash bag, dumped like litter on the side of the road.

In London yesterday, a foster mother was found guilty of subjecting three young children to unimaginable forms of sadistic physical abuse. The jury claimed the 62-year-old woman beat, starved, tortured, and imprisoned her long-term foster children over a period of 19 years.

In Brookville, Pa., Clarence Thomas, a 56-year-old man, was convicted on 971 criminal counts for abusing a girl for almost a decade.

Mixed in with the gruesome has been a surplus of simply disappointing news — much of it is political :

The Republican led Justice Department has admitted “mistakes” in the process of firing eight U.S. attorneys. Yesterday, a Democratic-led House panel responded by approving subpoenas for five White House officials to testify under oath to Congress, and, more importantly, to the media about possible corruption.

This, just as we were enjoying a breather from the Valerie Plame circus! It would seem that for many in the Beltway banishing ,or protecting Karl Rove are THE national priority. What about health care? What about social security, immigration, and education reform? Does anyone care about the confirmation of judges? Is everyone on Capitol Hill genuinely interested in finding practical wisdom on Iraq? What about saving our kids from unsolicited pornography and sexual predators?

A glance over at the campaign trail would suggest that post-Bush days will not offer much immediate relief from political pettiness, as much as we would all wish otherwise. The commencement of Democratic fighting, starring Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, has already blinded us from examining whatever concrete proposals they and their rivals may have to offer. Will McCain, Guiliani, Romney, or Brownback be able to break through all the noise? Hmmm … will anyone usher in a new era of political hope? Hmmm ...

For the passive news watcher, the news seems gruesome and disappointing, and the future is bleak at best. From his virtual couch he mentally ties one negative event to the other, and forms an imaginary world bereft of all hope.

But the active news watcher is a mother, son, husband, daughter, employee, or friend who invests his energy in developing good for others. His world is not the bad that’s out there, but instead all the good he can do within his radius of action. He prefers to build than complain. He looks forward, not backwards. Life for him is not perfect, but it’s good and getting better, because he plans on loving more. He swims in faith, hope, and love. He breathes them in. His environment is pure.

The active news watcher is not naïve. He too feels the gruesome and disappointing news all around him. In fact, he feels it even more deeply, because he not only sees darkness, but the light of goodness that should be, and could be, in its place. He mourns not only evil, but missing love.

But the real difference lies in his vision of reality. It is wider. He judges everything — the bad news he sees, and his sometimes good, sometimes bad, response to it — in genuine perspective. He knows this world is imperfect.

And if this man has faith, he finds ultimate peace by looking beyond the valleys and peaks of earthly news and into eternity where every tear will be wiped away.

God bless, Father Jonathan

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What I've Been Reading:

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Case Involving Auschwitz Artifacts Highlights Ethical Dilemma for Museums
The Brain on the Stand: How Neuroscience is Transforming the Legal System
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Not All News is Bad News

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News Which Never Made the News

The Women's War: The Impact of Iraq on Female Troops
Haggard Left Warning Signs that Went Unnoticed
Report: Government is Losing Obscenity Fight
Lawsuit Pits Heiress's Ex-Partner Against Wealthy Family

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