To say the least, the news is anything but comforting. Take, for example, news about the Boston bombing, the kidnapping of three girls who were enslaved for a decade, thousands killed in Syria and hundreds of thousands more now refugees, horrendous forest fires, first-time snows in May and a multitude of services being cut because of the sequester. If we listed all of our present woes, they would fill a voluminous book.
Coping with a constant flow of bad news pounding our psyches constitutes one of the greatest challenges of our postmodern era. Plato felt our corruptible bodies and the world enslave us and our only hope of coping with them is to escape from them.
Others realize that you can’t escape. The best you can do is become matter-of-fact and live with it.
As much as denial, escapism and indifference offer temporary relief, they are not the answer to living an enjoyable life. What then is the answer? I suggest we stand and confront the difficulties of our times. And how do we achieve this? We do so through education. We go to school, learn and try to confront what is wrong.
In his description of education, Cardinal John Henry Newman writes, “Education shows [us] how to accommodate [our self] to others, how to throw [our self] into their states of mind, how to bring before them [our] own, how to influence them, how to come to an understanding with them, how to bear with them.”
To combat our 24/7 age of distressing news, Newman would encourage us to ask: Are we complacent, or are we upgrading our critical thinking and asking what is essentially happening, why it’s happening, how did it happen? Is it related to anything else, is it an abnormal occurrence, and where is it happening most? Are we retreating to the privacy of our homes with our entertainment centers, or are we conferring with others to discuss the most pressing matters? Do we just talk about or study our problems, or are we speaking up and confronting those responsible for ameliorating them?
I lived in a neighborhood in which robberies occurred frequently. As a consequence, the residents formed a neighborhood watch and invited the local police to a street party. The result was fewer robberies and a more united and vigilant neighborhood.
I believe we have all experienced concerned citizens storming city councils and because of their vociferous outcries immediate action was taken.
There is a saying, “Fight fire with fire.” In our ferocious times, a fire is needed in which our education and the questions and actions it creates are raised to new heights.