‘There’s good news tonight’

good news tonight

#TBT Written for my newspaper column of July 29, 2015. Would you listen to such a podcast?

Yes, somewhere someone is dying. Someone is killing people. A fire has destroyed. A great wind has orphaned children. Someone is hungry, even starving. Their stories must be told.

But over there, someone is comforting a stranger. Someone is building. Someone is creating new beauty. A habitat is protected. A windmill is drawing clean, healing water for a community. A meal is being cooked to share. A disease is being cured, even prevented.

It has always been my experience that the impulse to to help a neighbor in need crosses social and political lines. The arguments, the differences, are about how to solve the need. If only the passions of the election season could be harnessed into solving and caring and helping, instead of tearing and denigrating and hating.

The person who cries “look out” or pulls a child out of the way of the oncoming truck does so because there is a need. It is not a Republican need or a Democratic need. Need is need, and we all recognize it. We disagree only on solutions.

Tragic that a man who makes his living reporting the news should be weary of news that frightens and alarms and disparages. The analytics show that people are drawn to bad news like moths to a flame. Why is there so much bad news in the news? We tell you these things because time and time again, you read or listen or watch these things with rapt attention and in great numbers.

Still …

“There’s good news tonight …” Who was the popular radio announcer who always led his newscast with that phrase? I want to be him when I grow up. (Google tells me his name was Gabriel Heater.)

When we fail to report something troubling, the outcry is sharper and more accusatory than when we fail to report something good. Yet I can’t help but believe that we provide a great public service when we encourage, not discourage; when we comfort, not terrify; when we shine a spotlight on reasons to hope, not reasons to despair or be appalled.

What’s the good news? Where’s the good news? It’s all around us. Perhaps that’s why the bad news gets so much of the attention: because it’s rare. Odds are overwhelming you won’t be the victim of something awful today or anytime soon.

The bad, the horrible is worth noting, because it presents problems in need of solutions. But darn it all, there’s good news tonight, and we ought to be encouraged as well.