Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Finding Normalcy In Goodness

Human Goodness

Orlando’s Steinway Society is changing lives with music (Courtesy of WUCF-TV)

News broadcasts are often filled with bad stories. Such is what journalists define as news, situations or events that fall outside the normal, which, more often than not, are events that threaten the safety and well-being of a nation. Most people are interested in finding out what is occurring in their nation, or in nations in which they have some emotional or religious affiliation or attachment. When many abnormal events happen in a short space of time, or similar events threatening the peace are numerous, fears of safety are heightened or amplified. This can make the abnormal appear as “normal;” and perceptions become skewed.

No doubt, a steady diet of such news watching can generate a negative view of the world and humanity in general. It can engender anxiety and fear. One can easily become cynical; one can easily lose hope in the future, a future where things will be normal again. While there are many good and important reasons to keep abreast of national and international events, periodical breaks are often necessary, if only to ensure that perceptions line up with reality. A reality that includes a wide and comprehensive view of events, both domestic and foreign.

Seeing positive events can help restore our faith in humanity, helping to reattach the moorings to their proper structure. To be sure, there are many positive events taking place in the world, including in the very nations that are the centre of negative news events. Take the case of educational initiatives to help young people in the United States. As a shining example of this, I watched a PBS-TV special on Saturday, October 3rd: American Graduate Day, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, “a seven-hour event featuring celebrities, public figures and journalists like PBS News Hour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan exploring innovative solutions to the challenges that millions of students face every day.” The show was broadcast from WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City.

This documentary on the American education system uses words like opportunity, mentors and moral obligation—a common theme is that individuals matter, that young lives can be turned around, and, most important, that if you seek good, you will find it, An exposure to goodness can change one’s views on what matters in life, on humanity in general. I think that the strategy, so to speak, is to normalize goodness, to view goodness as the standard, and not as something that is exceptional. That is, to find goodness as normal, as normative.

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