Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hawk Gazing

Yesterday, I received an email from the pastor of my church. This paragraph stood out:

"With today's technology, we have so much news, and so much information that comes to us with a threatening tone - that it can seem the world is collapsing and may implode any day. Often, it's more information than our emotional wiring can handle. Much of the news and its tone contributes to fear, the fear contributes to anger, and it all becomes a worrisome recipe. Avoid this trap."

Easier said than done, but he has a point. All of this "news" is hard to avoid. When I was in college, if you wanted to get caught up on the news of the day, you only had a few options. You could pick up a newspaper and read news that was 8-12 hours old. You could turn on the car radio (at the top of the hour only) and listen to a five minute update. Or, you could tune in to one of the three major networks  thirty minute newscasts which aired at 6:00 every week night. Depending on which network you chose, you would hear either Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, or Howard K. Smith give you the news. That was it. If something crazy happened, like a President getting shot or a moon landing, a scary banner would flash across the television screen alerting the viewer that there was Breaking News!! I say "scary" because whenever you would see that screenshot, everyone's heart would  beat a little faster because you knew something big was happening, otherwise they wouldn't dare preempt freaking Bonanza for something trivial. But, that was about it, a few short interruptions of everyone's day at agreed upon times to get us all up to speed on world events.

Now, I'm sure that the world was still a screwed up place back then. There was political chicanery all over the place, along with incompetent Presidents, womanizing congressmen and international intrigue aplenty. But mostly, we were only tangentially aware of it because the news wasn't an industry. Today, you can't go five minutes without being drowned in news. Entire channels are devoted to broadcasting it 24/7. Every social media outlet on the internet spreads some version of it all day, every day. I can consume it from every device imaginable on demand. With such a saturated marketplace, news sellers have to compete for eyeballs. To do so, news often has to be sexed up. Enter advocacy journalism and news celebrities. Throw politics into that witch's brew and my pastor is right, it can seem the world is collapsing and may implode any day. But, it's not and it won't. How do I know? Call it my trick knee and the fact that my highly refined bulls**t detector, bequeathed to me by my no nonsense mother, knows hyperbole when he hears it. Also...this:

"Often when I'm outdoors, I think something like, 'That hawk flying way up there - he doesn't know what year it is. He doesn't know about politics or terrorism or a million other fears. He soars like hawks have done for thousands of years and will for thousands of years to come....' Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough cares of its own.' In other words, "Do not give your heart to all the fear and worry, give your heart to the one who is powerful over all things, living each day in the present"

Again, easier said than done. To pull this off requires discipline, a willingness to unplug from all of the noise. This doesn't mean a retreat from the world, a cowardly escape from reality, but rather being selective on what noises and how much noise we allow into our lives. Maybe eliminate the highest pitch screamers, pass on the shrill voices. Kick the Chicken Littles to the curb in favor of a little more hawk gazing.

So, thanks, David Dwight. Thanks for breathing some life into my week.