Recently, a good Christian friend of mine flippantly said to me, “The human soul was not made to bear the sins of the world on a daily basis.” While not a lot of thought had gone into the comment at the time, in hindsight, I think his statement is rather profound.
Think about it, for thousands of years the only news bombarding people on a daily basis involved the immediate area in which they lived. What news they had of the “outside” world came, but not regularly and certainly not the instant it happened. If you lived in Haubstadt 100 years ago you likely knew a fair amount of the happenings in Haubstadt, but probably little about the happenings in Darmstadt, Germany, or even Darmstadt, Indiana.
Today, this is not the case. If you want, you can look at the “breaking” news constantly. There was an explosion in Kenya 10 minutes ago. You likely know more about it than the Kenyans. This is, of course, intensely interesting. Equally important, it distorts our view of the world.
In the constant bombardment of [mostly] bad news, it is easy to become depressed. How can you take pleasure in simply looking at the crops rising in the fields or enjoying the scent of recently cut grass? All of life appears ugly.
As a legislator, I am fortunate to travel throughout District 64 and attend meetings in places like Monroe City, Princeton and Ft. Branch. In my travels, I have wondered what it would be like to visit these communities 100 years ago. Of course, the journey would have been more difficult on a horse or in a primitive car, but it is striking to me that my own meetings are probably not all that different than those occurring 20, 30, 50 or 100 years ago.
The meetings I attend, be them Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy Scouts or a government engagement, generally begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a prayer. People are often recognized for some good they have done on behalf of the organization or for someone in the community, “thanks” are exchanged, and people are upbeat and pleasant. In essence, the same meetings that took place in District 64 for the last 200-plus years are still occurring today — what a blessing this is.
The same is largely true in the world, but in a broader context. Yes, there is an occasional act of nature, the occasional crime, and other random atrocities. But when you add them all up, most of the “news” that captures us on a daily basis isn’t being generated near us.
So, when the news gets to be too much — limit it, cut back — and refocus your attention on your community. We really were not made to see, feel and process the whole scope of evil in the world. I for one intend to limit my news checking to no more than once a day. I wonder what this will do for my mood. Maybe that sunset will look a little brighter tonight.
Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Evansville) serves has chairman of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee. He represents Gibson County and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh, and Posey counties.