Sunday, January 13, 2008

No Good News


A quick scan of today’s papers showed a lot of killing going on. There was Daniel Kim of Virginia Tech killing himself in a Target parking lot. There was Banita Jacks killing her four daughters ranging in age from 5 to 17, claiming they were possessed. There were 121 documented cases of returning veterans who killed someone, possibly as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then there was the article suggesting we may be cruising for extinction as Greenland continues to melt at an alarming rate.

Death and dying are always in the news. But today those themes made me wonder at the senselessness of humans extinguishing other human life or their own. I ask myself if this is the way it’s always been. I wonder if there will be anyone left to become extinct when the melting is complete.

10 Comments:

Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Sounds like you need to back slowly away from the papers and watch something silly and heartwarming on TV. I've been watching Doris Day movies. I can recommend "Calamity Jane" (whoa! it's a really different Deadwood city from the HBO show).

She can dance and sing and ride horses, all at the same time. Pure happy silliness - my prescription.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

It's probably a good thing I watched "Hairspray" (again) last night or I might be even more morose. Want to share "Calamity Jane"?

Now I know why I often avoid even picking up the newspaper. I much prefer to read The New Yorker.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I love Reya's cure and have taken doses of it myself, though no Doris Day today. Clerks. Normally, I'd go with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Pillowtalk's my fave and sometimes I need to get away from the world, if only to my couch and a movie.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

This post sent me on a google search for the reasons for violent tendencies in humans (good thing I have a snow day from school). I found one fascinating site that actually offers some hope regarding the questions you ask. You can read it here (the hope part doesn't come until the very end):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/demonicmales.htm

Backing away from bad news is one way to assure some personal peace of mind but it does not address the causes nor help in solving the problems. I read Richard Dawkin's book The Selfish Gene and felt pretty hopeless. It seems humans have always been a violent species with social tendencies. The above website summarizes a book, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, written by Richard Wrangham, a British primatologist and professor, and co-authored by Dr. Dale Peterson, a professor at Stanford. They contend there's hope for us yet if we can learn from a group of peaceful chimps who diverged from their violent ancestors and now live peacefully.

In the meantime, if each of us lives as peacefully as possible, we might find some peace for ourselves. I'm all for a feel-good movie!

8:46 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I'm going to have to check out those old movies.

Pauline -- I will check this out when I have a chance to catch my breath. We just got back from taking Glenda to the hospital -- in labor with contractions 3 minutes apart!

11:23 AM  
Blogger steve said...

BABIES!!!
Its the only thing that makes all the dyin' worthwhile...
BABIES!

5:17 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

when I get down about the news, I remember this:

These people who make a living reporting the news have a certain amount of time that they have to fill. Good news doesn't count, because we, as humans, crave sensationalism. The violence that we see on t.v. is not a real thing in most people's lives, so we look at it like a car crash.

Many people are making a big deal about eating locally and yet they absorb all of the sadness of an entire world. I only watch the news once a week on t.v. and if NPR gets too violent or depressing, I change the channel to a good C&W channel. It's not that I am hiding my head in the sand, it's just that I know I have a tender heart. Even though my hands are dedicated to making the world a better place for people, sometimes that task can be a little daunting, when overwhelmed with all the pain and suffering of an entire world/nation/state/city/neighborhood.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Babies are the reminder that we are not extinct yet.

Kelly -- I think I too have a quota for bad news.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Of course it has always been like that. Some countries have a thin veneer of civilization to hide the ugliness, but human nature is pretty brutal.

To look at it in its purest form, we need not look any further today than Afghanistan and their warlords.

Even ancient Israel was not much different. The tribes warred amongst themselves, only uniting to fight a common invader. King David is so revered because he actually managed to unite and make some sort of cohesive Jewish kingdom out of the tribes.

Ancient Greece was not much different with the cities states at war with each other, only uniting to fight a common enemy.

Families are kind of the same too. Siblings will fight amongst themselves, but will unite against a common threat.

Then there are all the children's stories: Baba Yaga, Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, etc that are quite dark and feature dire consequences for those unprepared.

I doubt very much we are cruising for extinction. Afghan-like tribal law and order - sure, extinction - nah.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- Thanks for the reality check!

10:22 PM  

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