I just found an amazing article on the tsunami relief efforts, and it made me wonder, why is it that we hardly ever see these sort of articles? It seems like the world turns a blind eye to good deeds and then wonders why no one ever does them. As a military man, I am well aware of the good deeds that are happening every day in many countries all over the world by us US Military folks. Not talking myself up, but if that stuff isn't reported, then I know there is a lot of good stuff going on that I never hear about. And that is sad.
In the above article, US Marines are helping Japanese by delivering food, water, clothes; helping with clean up efforts, search and rescue; and in general lending a hand in any way they can. The article goes on to talk about how some Japanese still have some reservations about having US Military folks around and the idea that we are in Okinawa especially. The intense fighting that took place on that island was some of the worst of WWII, and there are remnants of that battle still in the Okinawan memory. That, combined with repeated rape charges against the US Military stationed there (most notably in 1995 and 2008) makes it difficult to win them over. But, I digress. My point here is that even with a country that we are partnered with, we can have strained relations due to bad press. My other point is that even in a positive article, it is our tendency to go negative.
We need to make sure that our good deeds are recognized as just as much (if not more) as our bad ones. It is difficult to make our image better when all we report is negative press. We make negative press such a hot item in this country, that I feel dirty watching it. I feel like America is falling apart and that we are hopeless. That is a great way to make people take action to fix the world...
The Internets and dysfunctional people
So, why does the press do this to us? What happened to positive, happy news? What monumental change came that made it so easy to go negative?
Well, I don't have all the answers. I didn't watch much news before the internet came along (that happened when I was like 12). I don't know what it was like before the internet. However, I do know that when something as powerful as the internet comes along, it changes the landscape. Information was out there for the taking, and people (for whatever reason) are attracted to the bad. If the ratings were high for positive news methods, then we would be seeing positive news everywhere. If we as viewers decided to watch positive articles, then that is what would be shown.
I do have an idea as to why we want to watch the negative news. For the moment, it makes us feel better. Makes us think, "Well, my life may be screwed up, but at least it isn't as bad as [Fill in Name Here]'s life. Maybe I'm not so bad after all..." We spend so much time trying to feel better that we forget to actually get better. It seems to be a symptom of dysfunctional people. I could be wrong...
So, how do we recognize the positive? Most people won't yell about their own good deeds. Anyone who does is immediately dismissed as an attention whore. The only way to get recognition is for some third party to see the good deed and take action. So, that is the first thing we can all do.
1. When you see someone doing something good, tell them thank you. Write down what happened and send it to the local news. Put it on your blog. Tweet it. Facebook it. Take a video of it happening and put it on YouTube. Get it out there so that others can see it and recognize the action. Be the third party. Make it known. Celebrate it.
2. Stop watching and reading the negative. Devote your time to the positive articles. I am not saying that you shouldn't stay informed on what is happening, but for every negative article you read, try to read two positive ones. If enough of us do it, we will start to affect ratings, and then the money will start flowing toward those sources that show the positive. And don't just do it, either. Spread it around. Get your friends doing it, and have them get their friends doing it. It only takes one person to lead many. Be that person.
3. Third, and probably most important, is do good deeds yourself. I think if more good deeds were done, we might get more coverage of it. Especially if others follow 1 and 2. We need more positive happening in this world. Could it really hurt to hold the door open for someone? Would it ruin your day to compliment a stranger (just be careful what you compliment on)? Would it hurt to smile at the person passing you by and say, "hi"? I doubt it. I am not talking about huge feats of good (although if that is what you decide to do, I won't stop you). Just everyday helping out expecting nothing in return. This world would be better for it.
I think that if we had more positive news, we would have more positive deeds which would lead to more positive news, etc. I could be way off on this. I mean, I am only one guy. But, you, my readers, you are a multitude. And that's what it takes to change things. Thank you for reading. And you are all looking very smart today.