I was in a fast food restaurant today and a young man who looked to be around 20 years old was cleaning the dining room. He looked over to me and said, “It’s almost New Years.” I grunted my agreement with my mouth full. He then said, “Maybe 2016 will be a better year.” “What made your year so bad,” I asked (thinking, how bad can things have really been for a 20 year old?). He said, “Nothing really, I just heard a lady talking about all the bad things that happened this year and saying that she hoped next year would be better.”
I began to think about some of the horrible things that happened in the past twelve months. There have been terrorist attacks (including my own hometown), senseless acts of violence, questionable police tactics, and wars and rebellions around the world. Who knows, this might have been a record setting year of bad news.
On the other hand, what about all the good things that happened in 2015? While we have painstakingly compiled accurate statistics about how many lives have been lost to violence, sickness, and starvation, where can I find the numbers on how many lives have been saved by vigilant doctors and nurses and emergency medical personnel? How many deaths have been avoided by the millions of dollars and man-hours of humanitarian aid and philanthropy? How many children have had their futures redirected because one teacher saw past the problems and recognized the potential? And how many acts of violence have been avoided because of the excellent work of a therapist, pastor, or mentor? Who knows, this might have been a record setting year of good acts!
That’s the rub, isn’t it? We don’t know. While CNN and FNN tell us all the bad news (and MSNBC just seems to rail against life, in general), who is telling the good news? Why isn’t there a GNN… a Good News Network? Think of the stories they could tell 24 hours a day, seven days a week: stories of selflessness and generosity, stories of police and fire personnel who risk their lives to protect others, or stories of people getting onto planes and travelling halfway around the globe to build a shelter or dig a well for the less fortunate.
To be honest, I am not sure we have any more bad things going on today than at any other time in history. Since there are more people on earth than ever before, I suppose it is possible. However, it is also possible that, because we have 24 hour news coverage rather than 2 time slots a day, we report a lot of stories that didn’t make the final cut 20 years ago.
If you subscribe to the first theory of population growth being the cause, then the converse would also be true: there would have been more acts of kindness, love, and generosity than at any time in history. We just don’t have anyone telling those amazing stories. You might say that you don’t choose to see the world through “rose-colored glasses;” but why choose welder’s goggles as the alternative? Do we really want the dark and beauty-less perspective with which we are often presented? The Apostle Paul gave us this suggestion: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Phil. 4:8 HCSB)
Why not tune in to GNN for a little while? It might change your whole perspective.