No. 698



Have you heard the news? If your answer is “no,” that’s because it’s not out yet. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a terrible time making sense of the news. This is until I stop to remind myself of some basic principles and laws of nature. One of these principles can be simply stated “Everything that goes up must come down.” For example, if 10,000 airplanes take off and land safely, that’s not news. However, if one of those airplanes crashes, that is news.
Here is what the late Gene Fowler, American journalist and author (1890-1960), had to say about it. “The news is history shot on the wing. The huntsmen from the Fourth Estate seek to bag only the peacock and the eagle of the swifting day.”
As a journalist, I do my best to keep up with the news and what is going on in the world, because I want to be well informed and pass along information that is helpful and useful to you. As you know, my column is not about current events, because it’s written well in advance of the time you will read it. What I try to do is take the news, especially those news events that are tragic and preventable, and draw examples and parallels that will help us avoid making the same mistakes in the future. I know I miss the mark many times, but I honestly try to make my writing as interesting and informative as possible, with a twist that helps us see ourselves in the picture.
The news is really a “snapshot” at any given moment in time. Some news stories have a very short life while others seem to go on for eternity. Here I am reminded of the story of the packing house that caught on fire in a small community. They had a volunteer fire department. This packing house caught on fire about 9 o’clock one night and this volunteer fire department kept it going till 4 o’clock the next morning. I think this is the theory the “cable” news outlets operate on. While it’s been several months ago now, I took a snapshot of the news back on Dec. 11, 2008. Some of these stories are still around, while others have faded from view.
On this date I learned about a child pornography ring that was taking place in Australia. It was revealed that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich had been caught in the act of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that was to be vacated by President-elect Obama. The news was awash with the big three automakers -- Ford, GM and Chrysler -- seeking a bailout from American taxpayers. Unemployment numbers continued to rise in our country, along with more mortgage foreclosures. Then it was revealed that kids in our country were sending “nude” pictures over their cell phones. It’s called, of all things, sex-texting.
You might say this was just another day in the life of the news. To be sure, there is a lot of pain there because much of the news negatively affects people’s lives. There are millions of people in America who don’t bother to keep up with the news because much of it is so negative, but don’t forget, the reason these things are “news” is because they are not the norm. What we really need to remember is that there are consequences for our actions. When we understand that the laws of nature and nature’s God say that it is wrong to lie, it is wrong to cheat and it is wrong to steal, we can avoid much of the heartache that comes from breaking these laws.
In 98 percent of the cases, as individuals, we cannot do anything about events in the news and we should resolve to concentrate on the other 2 percent where we can. We should never become so insensitive and hard to today’s news that we no longer care. That’s the real danger, because we leave it to the crooks when we do.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)