Monday, March 14, 2011

Breaking Story Tonight: More Stuff* to be Afraid of

As a person who tries to always be aware of local, national, and global issues, I do my best to regularly follow the news reports, and from various news sources at that. One particular aspect of TV reporting, however, has bugged me for a while and with the recent wave of unrest and protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, and the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, I can’t help but mention it. I am certainly glad to live in a time when I am able to find out about these events and observe them as they evolve, as gruesome and disastrous as they are. However, what I am not really a fan of is the major component on which a strong emphasis seems to be placed (some TV channels are worse offenders than others) and which among common people is referred to as FEAR. 

Yes, people in the impacted regions are suffering and they certainly need assistance, but who cares about all that? The main point is that something bad is happening somewhere and we as innocent people must be afraid.  When the emphasis is on destruction and fear, without the proper knowledge and with a lack of critical thinking, many can become victims to this fear. I believe that what is even scarier than a delusional dictator taking over or an impending nuclear disaster is all the people in fear of these two. Especially if these individuals have not been educated on all the aspects of the issue.  I believe that most people possess the necessary mental capacity to learn and understand detailed information on any problem. Most, though, are never given that chance. What many news reporters seem to be concerned about is showing horrendous videos and focusing on the fear of what would happen to us if that atrocious event somehow made it to our back yard. If history has taught us anything, it is the fact that when fear is the main guiding factor, irrational actions and hate could be the result. With ignorance and fear, hate and violence become a certainty. Is that what journalism is nowadays? A vessel to transport fear to regular people and a competition to determine who will show the most shocking videos and who will use more synonyms for destruction, devastation, and danger within an hour of broadcasting?

Moreover, the news about one issue people must worry about and fear (a gone-nuts dictator threatening world peace) can only be displaced by another one (a nuclear reactor explosion in Japan or even worse, a possible earthquake that causes the nuclear plants in California to explode) that must induce even greater fear. Seriously? Natural disasters and man-caused disasters will always happen, whether we want them or not. It’s about time people educate themselves on how to deal with these instead of spending their lives building up fear and even worse, acting on it. 

With all the thoughts about fear, I am reminded of the children's book The Tale of Despereaux. The little mouse with the big ears was taught a very important lesson: With so many things to be afraid of, all he needed to do is to learn about them and be scared to his best ability and run in fear from anything or anyone different and thus dangerous. Instead, however, he just wanted to be brave, curious, and able to learn. I know, weeee-iiiird! So much easier to be afraid and scurry than to be brave and educated (read: are you kidding me?!). Going back to a previous post on books and reading, I sure hope kids out there read such books, grasp the meaning, and grow up to be open-minded and not afraid to learn and ask questions without blindly embracing fear as the only viable option.

-          Krasi

*Could be anything, and I mean ANYTHING.

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