Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Question of the Monday: Does the news make you cry?

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | May 21, 2007 9:02 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: social change

Do you often find yourself sobbing while listening to or watching the news? If so, does this sadness feel overwhelming and exhausting, or does it also connect you to some kind of emotional space that feels hopeful, like it could help you instigate or initiate change?

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No, actually it doesn't. I consume news all day though, through blogs and news sites and a little TV, and I'd be completely disfunctional if I did. I generally find it easier to connect with others starting with myself - something I picked up a long time ago is whenever I'm angry, frustrated, etc, I use that as a starting point to think about others to keep my generally minute suffering in perspective and also connected and to increase my understanding of others.

Does that make me a jerk?

Not usually, no. But this CNN report did. I bawled like a baby at this young girls horrifying death. I couldn't finish watching the segment.

Crying doesn't help. I get angry and frustrated that as a society we seem to excuse the atrocities of dictators, thugs, thieves, and murderers because we're powerless against them somehow. We feel better when we cry, but we don't do a damned thing to actually fix these problems when we do.

At home, we could alleviate poverty, provide basic human services to all citizens, and generally bring everyone up to a level of existence that is on par with being the richest nation in the world. We could stop the income disparity that has become gross and perverse in recent years. We could simply behave as if we are responsible global citizens and not act like children hell-bent on spending our inheritance before someone else gets a share.

Abroad, we could demand fair wages and treatment of workers in our trade pacts. We could stop propping up dictators and warlords and only do business in situations where we know human rights and dignity are upheld. We could stop valuing American lives over any other life - or at least not be so damned blatant about it. And just as before, we could act like a responsible global citizen and stop taking more than is our share while churning out more pollution than the next 10 countries combined.

We are only powerless when we do not care. We live in the oldest and most stable democratic republic in the world. As is often repeated, with great power comes great responsibility. It is not up to our government to wield that great responsibility, it is up to US.

Vote. Don't follow the pack, don't say there's nothing we can do, don't make excuses for why these jackasses are still fucking everything up in our name. Vote. We have to participate in our society. We have to contact our representatives in government and tell them how to represent us. They are OUR representation to the country and the world after all. They work for us. The government isn't just some big entity that exists. It only exists because WE will it to exist. If it's broken, it's our fault. If we don't like what it's doing, it's our fault. If nothing ever gets fixed, guess what...That's our fault too.

So crying about what we see on the news isn't going to help. I like finding solutions to problems. The solution to the problem is to participate in government, make YOURSELF a responsible global citizen, and vote every chance you get. Even if it's for dog catcher, make sure he's the kind of dog catcher YOU would want to represent YOU.

If the news is bad it's a reflection of how badly we (the collective we) are managing ourselves. It's just us folks, if we don't get it right there's no one to bail us out.

These are fascinating answers -- I do think it's possible to cry, i.e. to feel and emphasize, and also to do all these things...

Although, Jerame, voting is not something that makes me feel empowered, I think often it just furthers the same systems of violence that you're talking about challenging...