How to Stop Destroying Ourselves: Step One

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

I just downloaded four new apps for streaming news onto my iPhone. A good writer reads, I figured.

A list of headlines:

“In Baton Rouge… shooting… shooting…”

“… Civil Rights Protests…”

“Chinese nanny beaten…”

“Germany fears…”

“…allegedly raped again…”

“… Bring more weapons.”

Get the point?

I was at my on-campus job yesterday, sitting in the back room during a period of downtime. My iPhone news headlines feed – which displays four stories at a time – all promoted “news” about the recent Baton Rouge incident, cops vs. people, and racial oppositions.

I made a mention, a comment. My grandma always told me keeping my mouth shut was my weakness.

A group of four co-workers, myself included, launched ourselves into a rapid discussion over the topics. One young man spoke more than he listened. I tuned him out. One smart-kid listened more than he spoke. One young woman who is known to be nice to everyone remained observant. And agreement was reached:

If the press would stop running headlines promoting violence, violence would decline.

Violence is like fire; it’s hungry, always hungry.

Open your news feed. Whatever your source of “breaking news” might be, open it and browse the reading options. Make a tally. How many of those headlines are concentrated on violence, fear, political or racial tensions?

Sell something exciting, explosive like fireworks. The quickest way to maintain relevance is to latch on to the flashiest events.

All things come with a price.

It is extremely important to know what is going on in the world, in the country, in the state, in the community. My community, your community, their community – it’s good to know what’s up. I wouldn’t want to go walking out onto the streets during a shootout as much as the next person. So yes, I like to remain informed.

Why is it, though, that every headline in my news feed, every day for the past… well nearly forever, concentrates on the subjects of conflict, tension, violence, and death – these time-proven main focuses of the press?

Do these topics sell without effort? Is there some conspiracy agenda? Or do we, as first world, 21st century human beings, no longer know how to fix our eyes on anything else? Have we become so accustomed to the stories of the wars of our fathers that we are, in a sense, culturally programmed to carry on the narrative of endlessly warring tribes and nations? Have we matured to be nothing more than just a cog in a machine whose function is to continue the rise of a climbing death-toll, and track the process at every interval?

If you want something to die, starve it.

In an age where we glance more often at the screens of our smartphones than into the faces of other humans we pass on the street, our attention is always for sale. We are a spoon-fed population caught up in an ancient pattern of development and conquest. Today’s conquests aren’t just about oil, land, religious or cultural supremacy, access to water and food. The most valuable resource that can be one in the attention of the masses.

Where the eyes go, the feet will follow.

Conflict is growing. Fear is spreading. Tensions are rising.

This can only be contained before so long before the building pressure reaches a point of no return. Do you think things are bad now? Wait until all hell breaks loose in every street in the nation, outside your home, in your backyard, in your children’s favorite play spot, in the place you were married, in the place your grandparents and/or great-grandparents are buried.

The attention of an entire national population, from the coast of one ocean to another, is being directed in one linear direction, and we the people gladly hand over our time, our money, and our attention to be leash-led there.

Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.

The day when “news” becomes the thrilling tale of a good-Samaritan risking life and limb to help a neighbor or a stranger from accident, when daily headline updates promote community events that unify rather than reinforce opposing sides, when breakthroughs in music and art rather than advances in defense technology and the latest political scandal fill our feeds, that is the day we will know peace has returned to our lands.

Everything depends on what you and I want.

Do you want to raise the next generation in a broken, warring world filled with blood and fire? I don’t. But where else are we headed at this point?

We have more control than we think. 

If no one reads what is printed, the press will have to change their content. Writers have to eat. News has to sell. Don’t like what you’re reading? Don’t pay for it. Starve out the weeds and there will be room to plant flowers… or a ficus… or a hanging tomato garden – whatever blows your skirt up.

What you feed on, you will produce.

There’s a war going on. Americans are killing each other. We’re losing. Humans are killing each other all across the planet. We’re losing.

We won’t have to wait for malevolent extra-terrestrials to invade and destroy humanity if we destroy ourselves before invasion day. We won’t have to wait for the second-coming for judgment by fire if we burn ourselves and our entire world before that day has the chance to dawn. There will be no apocalypse to worry about if we end the world ourselves.

But…

If we can turn a 180, if we can love as hard as we hate, if we can reignite the spark of hope and become co-habitable with one another; if we become an undivided, interconnected species, our capabilities working in uniform will make us indestructible. Nothing from any other world, no disease, no idea, no band of gods and monsters will ever possess the power to erase the human race.

The only thing with the power to eradicate us is ourselves.

The only thing with the power to make us indestructible is ourselves.

Do you want to make America great again? Don’t count on the next up and coming politician to do it for you. If history hasn’t yet taught us to stop relying solely on our extremely fallible politicians, there is no one to blame but the stubborn student.

Don’t go away from this thinking the press is to blame. Blame is the wrong game to play.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

 

Frail

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