I have a confession to make: I stopped consuming news.
I say this as a former journalism student, a person who had a short-lived journalism career, and someone who has fervently believed for my entire adult life that it is actually my (and all of our) responsibility to know what's going on in our community. That's the way this whole democracy thing is supposed to work, after all.
But something happened, somewhere between the debt ceiling crisis, the 47th Republican Presidential debate, and the tear-gassing of Occupy Wall Street and I just couldn't take it anymore. I got this very clear sense that all my efforts to inform myself were making me angry, despairing, and - perhaps worst - dumber.
So I stopped. Cold turkey, basically.
I am not so willfully ignorant as to be unaware that millions of people are still out of work, the presidential contest is already mind-numbingly cynical a year ahead of the election, and sports gods exploit children while entitled kids riot in the streets in an inconceivable protest. The amount of bad news out there is chilling.
But here's the thing: there's a bright spot, and I'm pretty sure it's growing.
I feel like I'm talking to a lot of people lately who are daring to dream out loud, living from their hearts. A lot of people lately are telling me stories of transformation in their lives, saying that their dreams are coming true. The more I step onto this new practice of mine, the more I know I am not alone.
A friend told me this weekend that she's found a way to do potentially groundbreaking scientific research on mothers and newborns outside of the rigid confines of the academic establishment. That seemed impossible a couple years ago but she's doing it now. Another friend yesterday told me she's on the verge of scaling up a program she created to take art supplies and art therapy to underprivileged kids around the world. A series of inspired synchronicities combine with hard work to look like a small miracle.
I hear these things and think Sorry NPR. I don't need you anymore. I want to smother the politics and the business-as-usual with a wet blanket. I want to give all my oxygen to the small sparks of inspired work I see around me.
I'm back to my favorite MLK quote:
Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.
It gives me a little glimmer of hope, this vision of a small but growing critical mass, lighting the way.