Thursday, August 16, 2007

Behind the News

It's funny how one idea builds on another. Perhaps partly because of the change of my language and perspective from "poor" to "blessed" (see yesterday's post) and also in light of the "look behind the fear" idea (click here to read that post), today I am listening to the news differently. By listening in this way, I know what to pray for, what to affirm. Let me give you an example.

People (myself included) will go on and on about the negativity in our news. Turn on a news show in the evenings and you fill your family room with stories of defaulted loans, property taxes, abandoned children, war, joblessness, violence. Turn on the radio and you hear about struggles--battles, injustices, exploitation, dishonesty--all over the world. In recent months, I have intentionally filtered the input I allow from the constantly droning (and ratings-seeking) news channels.

But today it occurred to me to look behind the news. What makes news, news? Why are we talking about all these various (and often awful) things? Something interesting occurred to me. It comes clear when you look at what the story points to.

The story about an abandoned baby is really about the loving way we want to care for our children. It's news because our natural sense of caring tenderly for the smallest among us was violated.

Push through the story about the war and you find our desire for peace. It's news because real lives are being impacted and lost, and we care about those lives.

Look beyond the story about the corrupt CEO and you see that we have a built-in expectation of integrity. It's news because we expect people in power to be trustworthy and truly care for those they lead.

Move into the story of the trapped miners and find your belief that none of us is ever lost, separated, or beyond the reach of God.

Stories about global warming aren't about our abuses of the planet--they are about how much we love the earth and each other, present and future.

Behind each story, if you look, you will see the perfect value it is lifting up. Which values are being violated? Love, connection, harmony, peace, integrity, responsibility? Which stories do you turn away from the quickest? Chances are they point to something you can't reconcile within yourself, because you are a living example otherwise.

It's at that point, I think, that we need to pray. When you feel sick about a news story, don't look away--look behind it to the value that seems to be under attack. Affirm that the value is really there--otherwise, you wouldn't feel the hurt, outrage, anger, frustration. The value is there within you, and you can use it to bring light to the world. When there appears to be hate, look through it and affirm love. When there seems to be exploitation, see that integrity is there or you wouldn't feel the way you do. When you are frustrated by dishonesty or game playing, remember that you are feeling your own natural draw toward truth.

And who knows? Maybe with this kind of news watching, ratings would actually go up, and eventually there would be less news to report!

[Added note] One clarification, though--I'm not saying that the people, places, and circumstances that are the subject of the news stories don't need our prayers, because they do. We want healing, wholeness, peace, comfort for all who need it. But by putting our conscious attention on the value behind the story, we can help make it more visible. And thus "poor" becomes "blessed."

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