We Can Be Hopeful about the Future – But We Need to Hear Good News alongside the Bad

I don’t know if it’s cowardice, or worse a genuine disinterest, but I find I have less and less desire to read the news headlines every day. When I wake up in the morning and fire up the computer I see the homepage set to CBC news. With my coffee in hand I scroll through, clicking on interesting headlines and reading through with a growing sense of unease or sadness. Thankfully the local news tends to have fluffier pieces, but my god it is depressing out there. Rationally I know that the news has always been the hard-hitting stuff, it’s just that we have so much more information so readily available to us that it’s overwhelming. Between the downed airliner due to a missile and the fires in Australia, not to mention the ever-present doom of climate change and warmongering, it is hard to be positive in today’s world.

And yet positive we must be. We must fight to find the good in our communities and in the world at large. We must act in the ways we want to see change. Because if we don’t, if we give up and wallow in melancholy, then we all lose.

I’ve stopped reading the comments in news pieces and blog columns because of the trash that manages to flow through some individual’s keyboards (though I truly believe that most people are well-intentioned, it is the poisonous ones who are the most vocal). Even in wonderful pieces, such as word of The Ocean Cleanup being underway, or of a local initiative for better recycling practises, people find a way to be negative. We seem to have become so apathetic that we only find ways in which good things will inevitably fail, not how we can learn from those failures and find better solutions.

I believe that we can save ourselves and our future generations. I believe we have the ability to change our landscape and culture to meet the needs of the planet. I believe that we can learn to appreciate what we have and find big solutions to big problems. I believe that change for the better is already happening on small scales around the world. And I believe that we can continue that trend.

All we have to do is stop spreading the negative news without offering up the hope of some solution. Granted, the big stories in the news right now are grim, and rightfully concerning. Maybe the news stations should be responsible for finding more uplifting local and international content to be interspersed with the serious journalism – I know we need to have amazing journalism that informs us of what is happening around the world. I also know that if we are faced with a barrage of hopeless news day in and day out that we will tune it out, ignore it, and that will never solve anything. To become more engaged we need to be given some hope in our newsfeed, and certainly not only from social media but from big, reputable news agencies as well.

To make myself feel better, and to have a better outlook on humanity and life, I’ve developed a few defences. Not to completely shelter myself from the outside world, but to better equip me to handle it and to try to find small ways of living my life to make my community a little bit better. Some ideas are:

  • read local fluffy pieces first. At 5:30am I want to read about the deer that crossed the street at a crosswalk, with a picture included. After that and several cups of coffee I am more ready to read, digest and think about bigger issues.
  • limit my social media reviewing. Yes, it is a wonderful distraction sometimes, but other times it only spews hate and lies and advertisements. No one needs that in large doses every single day, and yet we do it to ourselves constantly.
  • get outside. Even if it’s only on my deck, breathing in some fresh air and looking at the trees in front of my apartment give me a little extra clarity. If I really take a few minutes, I can begin to hear the sounds of nature over the sounds of cars on the road in front of my apartment – birds chirping, the wind rustling, rain drops, squirrels climbing the tree branches. The natural world is a wonderful balm for a lot of things.
  • do my best to limit my driving/plastic/fossil fuel consumption. I am fortunate enough to be able to walk to work, and the public transit system is excellent. During the winter months I become lazy and drive more, but I am actively working on reducing that. Yes, I am only one person – it won’t make a huge different to the world as a whole whether I drive, consume, pollute more or less. But I can choose to act in a way that limits the imprint I leave, and if more and more people do that it can only do good.
  • just turn it off. Turn off the mindless TV and internet sites. Read a book instead, go for a walk, anything that doesn’t involve screen time for a little while. Start with ten minutes away from your screen, and then work your way up to where you can go a whole day without logging in to anything. It took me a while, but it was so worth it, more than I can even begin to describe.
  • realize that so many things are beyond your control. It is insane to think that as individuals we can change the world ourselves, and to worry constantly about the big issues is a waste of our brain space. Focus instead on things that you can control, making changes in your life that reflect the change you want to see in the wider world (read Mr. Money Mustache’s articles on city building and bike riding, they are very worthwhile, in my opinion).

We have many reasons to be positive about the future, but we need to see more of those reasons published alongside the more serious stories. When we can see that good things are happening on a daily basis around the world, we can start to feel more hopeful. When we start to feel more hopeful, we can begin to envision a world that we haven’t fucked up. Food for thought.

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