Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little Miracles Everywhere

If you watch television news, especially local or morning "news" shows, you would think that the world is filled with murders, crimes, rape, violence, hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, kidnapping, bombing, illnesses, and a myriad of other horrible things that can go wrong.  Their message is clearly, "Be afraid, be very afraid," so that you will continue watching and then buy the products they advertise to help alleviate your suffering.  Not coincidentally, these are often medicines for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and a myriad of horrible symptoms that are often a direct result of watching the news.

I am not disputing that all these events happen in the world every day.  What I am opposed to is the way it is presented as a common day-to-day fact of life that you should be afraid of.  Women should be afraid to leave their homes. Parents should be afraid to send their children to school.  You should be afraid of someone who "looks" like a terrorist.  The world is a dangerous cruel place and the best you can hope for is to find a drug that will help you live long enough to minimally suffer through it. 

For me, "news" is something very different.  I live across the street from a housing project in Brooklyn.  I frequently see mothers hugging their children, elders laughing, people playing chess, or just hanging out and talking.  Today on the "L" train, I saw a woman get on at 1st Avenue holding a bag of what appeared to be freshly-grown vegetables, and offer vegetables to two complete strangers who asked her about them.  They then talked and laughed about vegetables. Despite record breaking heat, we still have electricity and running water.

If there happened to be an act or violence, a shooting, a death, or some horrible accident in any one of these contexts, you can bet it would be on the evening news.  And I have no doubt that a local station will find something tragic and sad to make their headline tonight.  If they can't do that, they will come up with something potentially tragic and sad that could happen.

But I choose to see my "news" instead.  There are miracles everywhere. There are little acts of kindness, affection, appreciation, and grace, everywhere you look, even in New York City.  What "news" are you going to focus on tonight?

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City at Mental Health Counseling & Marriage And Family Therapy Of New York. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." 

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