“Bad news travels fast.” (American, British)
“Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet.” (Welsh)
“The news of a good deed travels far, but the news of a bad one travels even farther.” (Polish)
“Bad news proceeds by wings, good news hardly walks.” (Hungarian)
“No news is good news.” (French, Italian, English, Dutch, Swedish…)
We all know that bad news sells. Whatever your favourite news medium – TV, paper, radio, internet, it all says the same: doom, gloom and no room for improvement (outside of the token feel-good story that occasionally gets thrown in). My best friend was a Mass Com major in college. We lived together for one year while she was doing her journalism internship at the local TV station. I remember asking her why they only told the bad stuff, and she said, “Because it’s important.”
A day with no major world conflict, no local shootings, no economic crises, no political scandal…that’s a slow news day, ie insert feel-good story here. It doesn’t matter if you’re American, Irish, Hungarian, Japanese or Kenyan…humanity has the same bias. To weigh the negative more heavily than the positive. It’s such an integral part of the human value system that any other viewpoint is seen as naïve, foolish, untested, unwise.
But what is the truth? Is there really more bad than good out there? And is it more important?
I was talking with a few friends about high school and all its associated parental terrors – late nights out, drinking, drugs, peer pressure (and let’s not forget the leaving cert, horror of horrors)… This is the point where some helpful soul will usually say something along the lines of, “You think everything will get easier once they’re out of primary school and self-sufficient…but it just gets worse!”
But for the first time ever, someone voiced this opinion:
“Ah look, it’s not that bad, it’s really not. For the most part, people are good, they really are. You can’t spend your life worrying about it.”
This is a person who has done the whole high school parent routine. Three times. Successfully. She’s plenty experienced, plenty tested. There was heartache and fear during those years, don’t get me wrong, plenty of it. And yet still, this is her pronouncement. This is her news headline.
As you may have guessed, this person is a Christian. And this is perhaps the most revolutionary thing about faith. It enables us to see as God sees. To value as He does. It turns our value system upside down and inside out. What is perceived as naivete and foolishness becomes a truth to actively cling on to.
“Stop fooling yourselves. If you count yourself above average in intelligence, as judged by this world’s standards, you had better put this all aside and be a fool rather than let it hold you back from the true wisdom from above. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.” 1 Cor 3:18-19 (The Living Bible)
Whether or not there is more bad than good, I cannot concretely say, although I have strong suspicions that the breakdown is not nearly what the papers/TV/radio would make it out to be. But I know for a fact that it, the bad, does not weigh more heavily than the good…because we are still here. The earth still turns. God sorrows over the evil out there more than we will ever be able to understand. But He is still giving us and all those yet to be born a chance. Hatred, fear, greed, sloth…these do exist in much greater quantity than we’d like, but He is not ruled by them, and so neither are we. He still holds faith for us, in us. And at the end of the day, He still charges us to share the good news.