Father Eugene Hemrick

Why are some people tuning out today’s news? Could one reason be that basic principles of dialogue are missing in what they are experiencing?

St. Paul’s VI’s encyclical letter on the church “Ecclesiam Suam” contains the very principles of which we speak.

First is clearness that demands comprehensibility. Under “this first requirement,” states Pope Paul VI, all “should examine closely the kind of speech we use. Is it easy to understand? Can it be grasped by ordinary people? Is it the current idiom?”

Trust, a second principle is defined as “confidence”; “confidence not only in the power of one’s own words, but also in the goodwill of both parties to dialogue. Hence dialogue promotes intimacy and friendship on both sides.”

A third principle is pedagogic prudence: “The person who speaks is always at pains to learn the sensitivities of his audience, and if reason demands it, he adapts himself and the manner of his presentation to the susceptibilities and the degree of intelligence of his hearers.”

Finally, the principle of meekness is not proud, bitter, offensive, a command or an imposition. It is peaceful, “has no use for extreme methods, is patient under contradiction and inclines toward generosity.”

Are people tuning out the news because much of what it reports goes against promoting confidence and friendship, affronts human dignity and is vitriolic?

Could it also be that our news is nonstop? Our digestive system rebels when we overeat, and so does our mind when it is overwhelmed. You don’t so much hear people saying I can’t get enough news, but rather enough is enough!

Something is missing in today’s news that is touching our nerve of dissatisfaction. Could that something be that it lacks the virtue of disinterestedness?

On this topic, Father Romano Guardini states, “Within us, there lives a false self and a true self. The false self is the constantly emphasized ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘mine,’ which refers everything to its own honor and prosperity, wishing to enjoy and achieve and dominate. This hides the true self.”

Could one reason people are tuning out the news be that they aren’t hearing the true self in what they are experiencing?

Down deep, God endowed us with a sense of truthfulness, a desire for harmony and spirit of dignity. When absent, a warning sound alerts us that the air is polluted and should be avoided.