I am tired of bad news, about the way it has come to define our world and our relationships with each other, about the numbing relentlessness of headlines depicting war and disease and disaster that make us feel helpless in a hostile world. I don’t even know how to react anymore. When a French oil executive’s private jet clips a snowplow driven by a drunk Russian worker and crashes on a Moscow runway, absurdity trumps tragedy. When ISIS films its beheadings of innocent people, our horror deadens our humanity. When we dress Ebola health workers head-to-toe in Hazmat, and then learn that one flew round-trip from Dallas to Cleveland, while another turns up on a cruise ship off Belize, misfortune turns into farce. Our tendency, or mine anyway, is to stick my head in the sand, to withdraw to a safe place where I can keep the bad news at bay.
In the 1970s, New York’s Central Park was considered too dangerous to enter after dark, and so when the sun set we ceded it to gangs and criminals. A friend of mine, a man of unimpressive physique and noncombative ways, refused to comply, saying simply, “That’s our park.”
To retreat from the world is to give in to the forces that seem so threatening to us. Those forces are real and dangerous, but they are not the whole story. We need to publish other stories, the ones that affirm the only world – and the only lives – we have.