“As a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” – Isaiah 61:11
On Saturday, April 25, the world received the news of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal. Amidst all the headlines and news stories informing readers of the devastation, there was an article by Kimberly Yam published in The Huffington Post with the headline “Clown puts on impromptu Balloon Show for Nepalese kids affected by Earthquake.”
Kimberly reported that: “While Ron Fowler, a professional clown based in Wickliffe, Ohio and his family were unharmed, he knew that many other families weren’t so lucky and the 45-year-old decided to try to inspire a bit of cheer by putting on a balloon show for some children.”
She continued: “His simple plan seemed to work. The children were reaching and grabbing for balloons. Fowler, who visits the country often, said of the kids’ reactions to his impromptu show was one of great excitement”. Fowler provided a lift to their wellbeing and made a contribution to their happiness amidst the reality of the devastation. Fowler’s act was humanitarian and Kimberly’s story was refreshing and therefore shifted focus for the readers from the devastation and provided a balance.
This caused me to wonder why do we not have more newspaper, radio and television lead stories which give more balance to what is going on. Surely, it is not all doom and gloom and readers deserve an occasional “headline” lift to boost their wellbeing and provide a shift to their path to happiness instead of a constant diet which feeds the general feeling of pessimism or despondency.
I personally neither buy the argument that “if it bleeds it leads” nor “sensational headlines sell newspapers” as justification for this “policy”.
In another article, psychologist Tom Stafford has commented that “it may be because we’re drawn to depressing stories without realizing it”. He went on to say: “People are unhappy in their own company and some prefer painful experiences to their own thoughts, a new study claims. When you read the news, sometimes it can feel like the only things reported are terrible, depressing events. Why does the media concentrate on the bad things in life, rather than the good? And what might this depressing slant say about us, the audience?
“It isn’t that these are the only things that happen. Perhaps journalists are drawn to reporting bad news because sudden disaster is more compelling than slow improvements. Or it could be that news gatherers believe that cynical reports of corrupt politicians or unfortunate events make for simpler stories. But another strong possibility is that we, the readers or viewers, have trained journalists to focus on these things. Many people often say that they would prefer good news: but is that actually true?”
While the psychologists research these questions, may I suggest that journalists and publishing companies make an effort to seek out these uplifting events and give them the exposure that they deserve while at the same time providing balance to readers who have a constant diet of “headline” negativity.
Investigative journalists, in search of a diet of positive inspirational news, do not have to look very far. Rotary International, for example, is an organization which brings together a global network of volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members from more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work impacts lives at local, regional and international levels – from helping families in need in their own communities to working towards a polio-free world.
Rotary also offers expanded service opportunities, including: (1) Interact – a service organization organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs for young adults aged 12-18. There are more than 12,300 Interact clubs in 133 countries; (2) groups organized by Rotary clubs to promote leadership, professional development, and service among young adults aged 18-30. There are more than 8,000 Rotaract clubs in 167 countries; and (3) Rotary Community Corps (RCCs), groups of non-Rotary members who work to improve their communities. There are more than 7,500 RCCs in 80 countries, all organized and sponsored by Rotary clubs.
Investigative journalists the world over do not have to look very far to collect seeds of inspiration.
In Trinidad and Tobago, two Saturdays ago, a local group called The Inspiration Collection launched their “Wear the Word” (WTW) line of T- shirts at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya.
One individual when he saw the inspiring verses on the T-shirts for men, women and children immediately exclaimed “Thank God”. He was acclaiming the fact that someone is doing something to uplift our communities and arrest the slide of the pervasive social decay which we experience on a daily basis.
The philosophy of The Inspiration Collection is to “inspire others and impact society positively at home, on the job, in what we say and do and even what we wear. At WTW, our designs are meant to inspire EVERYONE. From the designer, to the printer, to the wearer to the reader, we are determined to promote change throughout Trinidad and Tobago and beyond. Our ‘canvas’ is the ever-popular T-shirt and our message is scripture. We hope that as you ‘Wear the Word’ your movement through life creates a positive impact!”
To learn more about The Inspiration Collection and its WTW release, visit the website www.wearthewordtt.com and like them on Facebook.
Let us plant seeds of inspiration in the garden of youth and let us nurture them with the grace of God and watch them grow so as to engender a sustainable future for posterity.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)