I tried not looking at the news yesterday. I just did not want to watch another whole day of violence and terrorism in America. Yes, terrorism. Terrorism by the gunman and terrorism via the incessant news. Both create terror.
I have worked with the media my entire life and my working relationship I have honest respect for them, to report fair and balanced stories. But I’m not sure when the television turned into an hour by hour rehash of the worst possible news. Replay after replay, vocal minute by minute play-by-play, horrific images, over and over and over, for hours and hours and hours. That is terrorizing too. To our psyche. And our country.
Since media often requires we have equal airtime for both sides of an issue, I propose all day television reporting about what is being done to stop violence. Who is working for our country’s safety and who is working just to put money in their bank account? Fact check, and follow the money. I know fear drives both sides of this equation. So let’s talk about it.
My unintentional life coach and alter ego, Aunt Kitty, of “Ask Aunt Kitty” has her take and I agree. (She’s funny and really smart!) Part of the problem about the media coverage is that we are addicted to adrenaline and fear. Why else would we watch hour after hour after hour of the same footage of suffering? Now, if I had family in Las Vegas during this event, I sure as heck would be scarfing up all the news I could get until I knew their whereabouts and safety. But, if not, it’s just feeding your fear and adrenaline.
If we’re honest with ourselves I think we all can admit to some adrenaline addiction. First step, admit we have a problem. Focusing on something that is fearful gets your juices going, it triggers that old part of the brain that helps you have enough energy to outrun a Sabre-tooth Tiger. But, generally when we are sitting in our living room or office cubicle there aren’t many Sabre-tooth Tigers around. And if there are some in your living room, you might want to rethink your living space. That would keep your adrenaline at a might high level, pretty much all the time.
So, why do we do that? Feed our adrenaline addiction? Ask yourself? My elderly father used to watch the 24 hours news stations and let me tell you it was not good for his mood or outlook on life. It was his constant companion. But geez, sounds like a frenemy to me. So, when I talked with him the conversation was nearly always about something bad that happened or was predicted to happen. Of course, this saved me from talking about his latest bunion, stools or hip replacement, but still… so not great for his well-being. Or mine.
How does focusing on a negative or scary news story keep you distracted? And from what? Your life? Your personal fears? Ask yourself. I know so many people who feel powerless so focusing outside of ourselves seems to make us feel powerful because we can wax prophetic about what “they” should be doing (kinda like I am doing here…whoops). Or we connect around the bad news. But, here’s an idea for taking control … turn off the bad news. And find another connection, surely there is one. (Don’t call me Shirley!)
But honestly, once you heard about yet another violent attack and mass shooting in America, what constructive action did you take, for yourself or your community or your country? Did it paralyze you or propel you? Anything that you are doing over and over again that is keeping you stuck or in fear is not helping you or anyone else.
If you’re concerned about gun violence, there’s a lot you can do. Have an open conversation about the topic, preferably with someone who does not think like you do and see if there is common ground, any action that can be taken. Find out how your Congressional representatives stand on the issue, what actions could you encourage them to take? Let the media know you appreciate news, just not 12 hours of terrorism. Use your voice and your vote.
Many people who are living in Las Vegas, who personally experienced this tragedy, took action. They donated blood, brought food and juice to blood donors, offered a safe place to stay, gave comfort. After the shock, they activated. Some, I’m sure went to their houses of worship or homes and said prayers. Many were understandably stuck in shock and grief, and that’s okay too. Everyone processes tragedy differently. But eventually, I hope to see some kind of action from each and every one of us.
Fear. It’s a killer. If the overdose of adrenaline doesn’t kill you, continual fear will. Kill your life, take away your joys and rob you of your every day experiences.
Fear lives in the past and the future, not the present. It replays the fearful incidents of the past or imagines the potential incidents of the future. It has power only if we feed it … images. Images of pain, suffering, violence.
Fear in the moment can work to your advantage, it can provide adrenaline to help you run from a situation, defend yourself or give you super human strength. But fear of the past and the future, it hurts you over and over again. It’s shown to be really harmful to your immune system.
As much as I avoided the television news yesterday, I could feel the collective fear and grief of our country. I really couldn’t avoid it. And I asked myself, how many more Sandy Hooks, Pulse Nightclub, or Las Vegas strip shootings will it take for us to take real, measured, helpful action? Whether you focus on mental health issues, common sense gun laws, or productive dialogue with leaders who affect our very lives by their decisions and legislation … there IS something you can do. Be the change.
It might help you to investigate any personal fear you are carrying. Is it stopping your from living your best life or preventing your unique contribution to humanity? Be in the present, but act for the future. All of our children are depending on that.
I don’t want to avoid the news, I want the news to be about how we came together to overcome this horrific violence that has become all too common in our country. I want the media to be able to report that good news. How we copied what worked in Australia and successfully ended mass shootings. There are solutions. Proven ones.
On whatever side of an issue you stand, fact check and always, always follow the money. (Leaders get paid by lobbyists to stand on one side or the other. See who donates to them and visits their office!) Please don’t assume something is TRUE because a leader or any person tells you that it is, i.e., the “Democrats/Republicans/Communists are trying to take your guns.” FACT CHECK. (Note: Despite 8 yeras of spins and fear mongering, President Obama wasn’t planning to and, as history shows, didn’t take our guns.) Facts tell you more than any one newscast can.
Understand you have to be a wise consumer of the news… When a journalist reports, “The President (whichever one) said …x, y, z or A/B/C person said l, m, n, o, p” it doesn’t mean that what the President or person said is true, it just means the journalist is telling you what they said. For example, Journalist Pat says, “Congressional leaders reported today that the sky is blue. But, President Napoleon made a speech to his leadership today and rebutted that, saying the sky is gone.” Both are true. The sky is blue and Napoleon said that (in this made up scenario, I hope). But, the sky is NOT gone. FACT CHECK.
A balanced reporting on the issues does not mean both sides are telling the truth … follow the source and the money! Investigate their history on the issue. For instance, locally in Annapolis we have a city council member named Peroutka who is has been aligned with a White Supremacist organization for years, and then he all of a sudden tries to distance himself from that organization and claims he didn’t know they were racists. Nice spin but … REALLY? Read their website, look at their photos. Anybody could figure out who they are and what they’re about. (Again, if you follow his money trail and speaking engagements, it’s pretty clear.) FACT CHECK.
I realize that some people fear that the government is trying to take away their weapons; that we need assault weapons to potentially defend ourselves from said government. My take: if our government went so off the tracks that they wanted to lock us all up, they have more than semi-automatic rifles to do that. Chemical. Biological. Nuclear. Your itty bitty semi ain’t gonna cut it. And if you’re afraid of another country coming in, same thing applies, we got ammo.
Maybe that’s just what the gun industry, who makes billions upon billions, wants you to think so they can keep making profits off us. Blood money, I’d call it. Rest assured you can keep your hunting rifles and self-defense pistols. There is no reason on God’s green earth to have a rifle that can shoot 500 people in minutes. Come on people. The only people who profit from the sale of those weapons is the gun industry and the people they pay to represent them (lobbyists, members of our Congress, political parties, etc).
I don’t know about you, but even on a normal day, I breathe easier once my daughter is home safe. I don’t even realize that as the sun goes down I begin having a about her safe return. Way too many people in Las Vegas didn’t have their children come home safe last night. Some of their children they will see in the hospital and others they will not see on this Earth again. The question is, what are you willing to do about it? And, please tell me that you won’t wait until it happens to your children.
Don’t let fear paralyze you, use it as it was intended, to propel you to safety. In this case it can help you to use your voice, your vote and your victory for everyone’s safety. Every child in this country depends on us. On you.
Prayers for everyone affected. And that’s pretty much everyone.
With my voice, la mia voce,
Your Intentional, fact checking, Co-Creator
PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story