No News Is...
I have been sitting here crying for most of the evening... You know what, I think I should start from the beginning.
A few months ago, I decided to take a sabbatical from the news. It simply became too overwhelming and depressing to watch, so I quit the news - just like that. I was quite content to take up residence in the state of Oblivion. Whatever news I was aware of came in the form of snippets from the radio program I listen to during my morning commute, or from links people posted on facebook or twitter. I wasn't a bit bothered about not being able to contribute to conversations about current events because I had no clue what was going on in the world. Yes it was working out quite nicely for me if I do say so myself - until last week when two things happened.
First, I heard about the Kony 2012 campaign and I, like millions of others, jumped in with both feet without looking before I leapt. I mean, I bought the t-shirt and everything y'all; as it it should literally be arriving in my mailbox any day - but I digress... [Incidentally I am praying for the young man, Jason Russell, who co-created the video...]
After my rush of social activism, I stumbled on a commentary by Ugandan Journalist, Rosebell Kagumire and got the other perspective. In the case of this story, I forgot that there are several sides to every story and you don't get the full story if you leave them out. That is a very bad thing for a writer because the majority of what we do to create stories and characters people care about and relate to is to research and present multiple sides of a story. Residents of Oblivion, I found out, do just the opposite. They go with whatever is popular and end up getting tossed around by any doctrine/movement/story that comes along. I was guilty. Somewhere along the way I forgot that I am that word nerd who actually looks up words AND their origins to make sure I understand things thoroughly long before I ever put paper to pen. [My paperback Merriam Webster that is split in half with its many dog-eared pages is proof of that.]
Second, I heard about Trayvon Martin's story [way after the fact because, remember, I had "quit" the news] and my heart just about broke to the point I was in tears. This young man's story hit me so hard, and I couldn't figure out why. Then tonight I saw his picture and realized this young man was around the same age as my nephew. I realized that given different circumstances it could have been my nephew... or anyone's nephew for that matter. It made me sad and angry and scared for reasons I won't go into in this particular post, but it also triggered something in me. I believe this story had to hit me like it did to show me that when I quit the news, I quit more than I realized.
And so my tears and prayers tonight have not been about me; they haven't even been just about the Martin family [AND the Zimmerman family]. They have also been for the hurting people out there who need real hope, who need real help before they do something crazy, who need to see real change in their circumstances so they don't lose their minds. I know because I have been there and I know it was only the prayers of someone (or someones) else that carried me through.
So, I hear-by announce that I have moved out of Oblivion and back into the real world. The break was nice, but I'm ready to dive back in now. I don't plan to become a news junkie by any means, but I do intend to keep myself informed and aware from this point on. Ignorance is NOT bliss... who said that anyway? I see more research in my future!
NOTE: The phrase ignorance is bliss is from a poem by Thomas Gray called "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (1742). The complete line reads, Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."