I had to close my laptop this morning. I couldn’t take it anymore, and that’s probably a good thing. Man cannot live on bad news alone, after all. We can’t survive on a steady diet of devastating exposés.
But how can we avoid them? Our lives are full of open windows. National tragedies, investigative reports, and so many allegations. So many unsettling stories… these things have a way of finding us. They tumble into our living spaces, these torrents of tragedy, and they drag with them an endless stream of simmering hot takes. And at the end of the infinite scroll, all of us feel slimed.
And I know, it is probably good for us to be disturbed once in a while. Truth has to shine, after all, even if it stings our eyes.The internet, that giant spider web of gossip and cat pictures, does some good in this regard. It can be a victim’s sword to cut from the wolves their sheep’s clothing; a smooth stone for a shepherd’s sling. Some giants must be felled, and felled publicly, for the good of everyone.
The air around dead giants grows toxic quickly, however.
How long can we go on breathing it? At some point, the ache in our hearts becomes too heavy, and we have to step away from it all.
I reached that point this morning, so I closed my windows, and folded up my laptop. Out the door I marched, armed with an Apostle’s ancient urgings to think on better things. Pure things. The lovely. The true, the holy, the honorable and commendable, the excellent and the just. (Phil 4:8)
Such advice sounds antiquated in a world of chronic anxiety and 24-7 news cycles. What good is it to think about rainbows while so many storm clouds hover overhead? Didn’t Paul know about the dangers of denial?
But then, denial is hardly a serious risk nowadays. Is it even possible to miss the depravity of mankind?
If you’re like me, you have the opposite problem. You stew over the bad news, not the good news, because bad news still sells best. Even in the digital world, heat rises. The wicked and reprehensible things climb our timelines and lord over our feeds. Bad news always existed. Now, it seems, it is the only thing that exists.
Except it isn’t. It never was.
So I took a walk this morning. The air was cool. Street puddles shown back the sun like funhouse mirrors on the floor of the world. The ground was littered with the remnants of last month’s ticker-tape parade we call autumn. Whimsical purples and golds, crumpled but still pumpkin-bright, all served to remind me of one thing: joy still happens here.
The trees were the best part. They are mostly bare now, but they live on, stretching their naked branches heavenward. It is nearly winter, but spring will come again.
Sadness and vileness and loss… these are real things. But then, so are laughter and survival and redemption. How many victories do those trees oversee? How much love is shared in the houses I passed? How much laughter is traded? How much beauty is created?
And then I consider my own home. How much joy do my children bring me? How much do I adore my wife? How blessed are we to have friends who so readily embrace us?
We will think about and grapple with many, many issues, but we must meditate on these things. Because in the age of bad news, they are easiest to forget.