I’m glad I generally ration my news intake: Richard Rohr, a (very liberal) Catholic monk whose daily readings hit my inbox in the morning, says that it’s good to restrict one’s news intake to no more than an hour a day. I think I’m doing quite well on that score; I look at the headlines two or three times a day and maybe check out one or two stories; I get a Guardian on Saturday, and that’s about it. Generally when the news comes on the radio I switch it off – either because it’s too darned depressing or because I can’t stand to hear Johnson or Trump’s voices. As for TV news, I’m nowhere near it, haven’t been for a long while, though I occasionally listen to a slice of PM on Radio 4.
The point of the news is supposedly to keep us informed of what’s going on in the world. But does it? Disregarding political bias, of which there is not a little, there’s an overwhelmingly negative slant to everything that’s reported. Even when you get the odd good news story there’s generally a ‘but’ at the end of it, as if they can’t resist warning you that life isn’t all roses, there’s plenty of guns out there as well.
Right now aside from having some kind of global nuclear war, the news could hardly be worse. We’ve got Covid deaths exceeding one million worldwide (though C19 has a way to go before catching up with the Spanish flu in 1918), we’ve got appalling leaders in countries like Britain, the US, India and Brazil, and behind and above and beyond all of that we’ve got climate change which we’re doing not nearly enough to halt, never mind reverse. When faced with all this, despair seems the only option.
But! as Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, strong men know not despair. Let’s imagine he meant women as well – which he probably did, and consider this. I don’t think Krishna was advocating toughness or bravado, nor was he suggesting we bury our heads in the sand. I think he meant that the world, the universe, God – call it what you will – is always so much vaster than we can imagine. My own take on it is that Gaia will take do whatever it takes to heal the earth; rather than us destroying the world, it will destroy us. If we don’t learn our lesson. But I take heart from what happened during the early days of lockdown; the clearness of the skies, the dolphins coming back to Venice, the air pollution practically zero. I’m convinced – and I mean no disrespect at all to those who’ve lost people in this pandemic – that Covid is here to teach us, the human race, a lesson. We must do better – and soon.
Of course our glorious leaders show no sign of getting with the programme – but Johnson and Trump will soon be gone. The earth will continue.