A lot of people confuse “the news” with “how the world is”. That’s not what the news is about. The news is the unusual, the extreme, the extraordinary, the exception.
The news draws attention to the world acting out of character. It’s the shocking event, the natural disaster, the criminal, the abnormal. Occasionally there are remarkable things to celebrate in the news. Mostly – all too often – it’s tragic, incredibly upsetting and frightening. Bad news about the world causes us to feel that the world is an increasingly terrible place. But the opposite of bad news is not good news. It’s the ordinary. The small. The everyday.
You want to know how the world is? Go out into the world. You want the world to be a nice place? Mostly, you’ll find that it is – and there are always opportunities to make it nicer and kinder in small ways. Those bad people you see in the news? Those awful events? Those tragedies? They’re not typical of anything. Not of a place, nor of a type of person, a faith or a time in history. They are in the news because something happened that is way outside how the world usually is, and what people ordinarily are.
This morning I have taken the dog for a walk. I’ve fed the cats. I’ve made porridge. I’ve had coffee. I’ve done dishes. I’ve checked email. I’ve listened to music I like. None of this is news – it’s utterly ordinary. And it’s no less of a reflection of “how the world is” than what you will see in the news today. Probably more so.
Terrible things are happening in the world. But mostly, it’s incredibly ordinary. And what a wonderful place it is to do ordinary things. Daily, unnewsworthy things that make us and those around us happy in small, unremarkable ways – every day, for as long as we have.