This morning, as I left for my usual social engagement with the golden-aged regulars at the local greasy spoon, the wind whistled around the corner of the house, and the dark, starless sky pelted the whole outdoors with huge drops of water. At the store, during our breakfast meal, the local televised news broadcast fed us story after story about horrifying and horrendous events which recently occurred; a son beheaded his mother in North Carolina, a fist fight between the members of a collegiate football team and members of a fraternity was caught on tape in Bowling Green, a woman drowned trying to save a dog in Indiana; and the list goes on.
Before the news cast began, the conversation between the men at the table was light and humorous. When the morning news anchor began describing the details of one depressing story after another, the group became silent, the mood became somber, and the occasional comment expressed disbelief and concern for the depravity of our nation. Slowly the mood and conversation around the table returned to its normal lightheartedness and camaraderie, but it was plain that all had been affected by the daily dose of shame and harm.
This morning’s weather, along with the breakfast experience, and the resulting observations reminded me of a recurring situation I experienced while dairying.
I remember standing in a metal-roofed barn on several dark, rainy mornings, feeding calves or trying to teach a newborn calf to nurse from a bottle. The wind would be howling around the barn as the rain drummed on the metal roof. Occasionally, I would find myself standing under a hole in the metal and a steady dripping of water seemed to provide a preview of what was awaiting me when it came time for me to leave that barn to return to the milk barn.
As I processed all the sounds, smells, and sensations, I couldn’t help but dread the cold soaking I would get as I walked back to the stock barn in the downpour.
Sometimes my supposition would be correct and I would be drenched by the time I arrived at the milk barn. However, many mornings, when I stepped outside, I would discover that the supposed downpour was nothing more than a sprinkle. My perception of what awaited me outside the barn was far from the reality.
Why did I imagine the worst before I experienced the reality? Because the large metal roof was combining the sound of millions of raindrops as they fell on an area of several hundred square feet. My ears funneled this collective sound into two narrow canals allowing it to vibrate the membrane of two small ear drums. The darkness of the early morning hid the truth from my sight. The howling wind provided evidence of an unseen, uncontrollable force. The drip resulted from a collection of thousands of raindrops all following the path of least resistance to that one small opening just above the single square foot of earth which I occupied at the time. My mind combined all the sensed data and I presumed it must be bad outside the barn, otherwise it would not sound and seem so miserable inside the barn.
Our society is filled with people who thrive on creating this same type perception of the world; some do it for free, while others profit with millions of dollars. These people often combine the uncommon tragedies of a few individuals spaced many miles apart and present them as if they daily occur in almost every community across our great nation. We may try to avoid the bombardment of disturbing information, but through the advances in technology, mass media, and social media, the data is filtered into our homes, our computers, and our phones until it regretfully becomes unavoidable. The unwanted, depressing information is continuously funneled onto the single square foot of earth we currently occupy until we dread and even fear to go out into the darkness because we believe the whole world must be as depraved as the news media makes it sound. After all, if it’s in print or on radio and TV, it must be true.
But the truth is, most people have a basic goodness and sense of morality. Most people still possess qualities which make for good neighbors and friends. Most people want to live in a safe and secure environment just like we do. Most people make this world a far better place than the news media would have us believe.
What’s the antidote for this flood of depressing news stories?
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9)
Do you wish to follow us