Community News

LadieswithUmbrellasI didn’t want to wait for the sheriff to knock on my door. I packed my evacuation bag and then sat down in front of the TV to watch the news and assess the fire situation.

Two days later, I was still glued to the TV and I never had to leave my home. I had a slight headache but no other damage or difficulty. Was it a waste of time?

Maybe I  could have been established  a more balanced program of news watching but I wasn’t sorry I’d sought information while it was happening. Not only did I get to see the fires come under control, I could also see what was going on in my friends’ neighborhoods.

My particular area was not impacted as much as many of my friends were. Thank God, none of us was harmed. Nor did we suffer any major losses. Two of my good friends had to evacuate and others were put on warning. As I write this, the eight North Country fires are nearly all out and the TV is off.

Just before the fires started, there was an email discussion within my minister’s group about how much news we should watch. It started in reaction to my last blog when my theme was that things are usually all right so the events that make the news are the exceptions.

The minister’s exchange  moved quickly to a question of whether we should watch the news at all. Some ministers  believed they needed to be informed to serve their congregations well. Others believed that any news was bad for us and they advised avoiding it altogether.

It was an interesting discussion and the opinions were all over the place. It was especially fascinating to read the emails and then have the responses followed so quickly by dramatic local news. I thought the  fires were a definite illustration of why avoiding the news doesn’t always work.

Anyone can see we need to know what is happening in our immediate world if it is potentially harmful. Fires are a clear cut examples. On the other hand CNN’s coverage of the lost Malaysian airplane was so obsessive and attracted so many obsessive watchers that it was fodder for jokes from the late night TV hosts.

The idea that we should avoid all news is fairly prevalent among followers of New Thought. They believe that knowing the bad news and all the trouble in the world is not useful. They think we are simply overloading our minds with negativity. Of course it is true we want to be as positive as possible so they have a point.  One well known self -help author wrote about going on a “news fast’ several years ago and that idea spread rapidly.

I am always a bit shocked when people I think are intelligent tell me they never read a newspaper or watch the news. It makes no more sense to me to avoid the events of the world than it would to avoid eating correctly or taking care of my health.

I heard the Dali Lama say once that we should take care of our planet’s environment because, “That is where we live.” He made perfect sense to me then and in the face of global warming, he makes even better sense now.

The Dali Lama’s words were a very simple statement and most of us would agree with it. We must decide what to do and how to do it to deal with the impact of global warming on the planet. Certainly, we must pray. Just as certainly, we must act in new ways.

I believe it really is important to know what is happening in our community. In ways, our community includes local, statewide, national and global connections. The idea that we need to keep abreast of what is going on in these communities seems just as clear as taking care of our environment. When we know what is going on, we can pray and we can also take action.

We cannot expect to avoid our responsibility to the natural environment just because we are spiritual people. Nor can we expect to avoid all political responsibility. There are times when we need to be informed and to take action.We learn about events through our news media although some venues are more reliable than others.

Should a spiritual person avoid the news? Some of my friends don’t vote because they think living a spiritual life means avoiding politics. I cannot agree. Not only do I want to know where the fire is going next, I want to know what is happening around me in social or political events.

Perhaps because I grew up during World War Two, I formed a definite idea of my place in the scheme of things. The “good people” who tried hard to avoid knowing what was going on, before World War Two, learned a big lesson. War broke out anyway. Millions were killed on both sides. Hitler’s hateful beliefs resulted in the killing of millions of Jews and others.

.I learned that a good citizen participates in his or her government.Deliberate ignorance made many things worse.

I formed the habit of reading newspapers in the sixth grade and kept it up until fairly recently. Now I find I depend much more on TV and internet to keep me informed. Although I buy the Sunday paper in San Diego and get the daily NY Times online, I mostly scan headlines. I only read what interests me. I watch Rachel Maddow most evenings and Melissa Harris Perry on weekends because they cover issues nearest to my heart.

I always vote. I use absentee ballots and I always take the time to inform myself. I donate money to some causes and I write letters from time to time. There was a time when I was much more active and even if I can’t march,  I still want to help steer the country into equality, liberty, etc. I truly believe that no man is an island.

The question of whether or not  to pay attention to the  news is an interesting one and I was happy to see it so fully discussed. I know that everyone has a right to make his or her own decision however, I can’t help wishing more New Thought people were more interested in current events.

The question of  the importance of the news was solved in my neighborhood when the recent fires were a few miles away. Issues like the narrowing of voter registration and closing Planned Parenthood centers are just as urgent in their own way. Let’s not wait till the knock on the door comes before we know what is happening.

Ask Yourself

What do I really believe about following the news?

Is there anything I want to change in relation to the news?


7 Comments on “Community News”

  1. Susan says:

    As always I love your honesty and how you get right to the point. I was also glued to the TV during those two days. I haven’t watched much news in a the past year as part of my reprogramming my mind and wanting to be more positive. I remember just feeling sad and icky from all of that news and TV in general. I like reading about people/events online better than following news. I don’t plan on starting to watch the news again now, but am glad that I could get that coverage when I needed it for the fires. Glad to hear that you are safe and well.

  2. Marjorie Shalita says:

    Jane, I quite agree with you, and also hope to see more “New Thought people actively involved in the social and political life of our times. I do hope that Marianne Willilamson, for example is successful in her efforts to be elected to Congress. We need more, not less of Unity Consciousness represented in our politics.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. ……so glad to know that you are still actively involved and I send my blessings to you for your continued well-being.

  3. Beautifully said Jane. I believe there was great wisdom in the buddha’s admonition to follow the middle path. Balance is the practice…not too much, to too little…in the middle is just right. This includes the attention we give to the news.

    Peace, Dennis

  4. Jane Pool says:

    Dear Jane,
    Glad the fire missed you. We, too, were packed and ready to leave had it become mandatory.
    As someone who has always been interested in local, state and national governments it distresses me to learn that so many New Thought adherents, even ministers, choose not to pay attention. I believe we have an obligation to this country to at the very least learn enough to vote with some knowledge. Remember the old saying, ” All it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.” I am too old to march for causes but I am an active signer of online petitions and sometimes contact governmental representatives and give small donations when I can to causes in which I believe strongly. And I never, never fail to vote!. When we pay attention to the things that have taken place in Wisconsin and Michigan and the gerrymandering and voter suppression in many states it at least behooves us to vote. The Fall midterm election is possibly the most important in our lifetime. Since all the mainline media are controlled by 5 huge corporations they are not an unbiased source of information but MSNBC in the afternoon and evening do give a viewpoint that is hard to find elsewhere. I strongly believe in separation of government and religion but I also strongly believe that the intelligent people of New Thought ought not to not participate on a personal basis.
    Keep your wonderful blogs coming. I always have, and still do, learn so much from you.
    Much love,

    • janeclaypool says:

      Dear Jane,
      We have similar names an we also hold such similar viewpoints that from time to time, i wonder if maybe we are twins separated at birth! Anyway, I agree that the midterm elections are extremely important this time around. There is a definite effort to narrow civil liberties at the state level wherever possible.
      Above all, I thank you for your support and wonderful friendship. See you in church.

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