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The headlines this week are overwhelming. We talked about climate change here. We’re all watching what’s happening in Haiti and Afghanistan with broken hearts. Pandemic fatigue and worries are only growing.
In times like these, we need to breathe. We need to slow it down. It’s easy to become angry and reactionary, but that’s not what the world needs right now.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, and to be human right now means you will probably feel angry about what’s going on. How we express and deal with that anger is a whole other story. I’m seeing lots of hot-handed comments lately on social media. Everyone wants to play the blame game (myself included).
I don't know what's more toxic these days our water or our discourse, but both are extremely problematic.
It’s time to think about what you are doing, thinking, and saying. How are you contributing to solutions? Are you creating more toxins in the world with your thoughts or actions? Are you taking the time to listen?
They say everyone is fighting a battle that you can’t see. Now more than ever! We are all dealing with a lot. It’s been a crazy few years and it doesn’t look like the bad news is going to slow down anytime soon.
We have to come back to our essentials. What brings us joy? What are we fighting for? Why do we care so much?
Take time to slow it down. Get your mind in order. Think before you Tweet. Stop fighting with your friends and neighbors. Stop posting articles without reading them first—or commenting on headlines vs. taking time to read an opinion and then give feedback.
Power of The Press
Let’s talk about the news for a moment. Two minutes, twenty-six seconds. That’s the typical length of a national TV news story. Even Walter Cronkite once called the evening news a “powerful headline service” and recommended that his audience keep reading newspapers and dive deeper into these issues.
I know many people have been inspired by the Erin Brockovich movie, but it was years and years of work reduced to two hours and twelve minutes of legal drama. It focused on one contaminant and one town.
This shit is everywhere now. It’s overwhelming, saddening, and certainly anger-inducing, but to make real change we need to be organized. We need to fight alongside our neighbors, not fight with them. We need to be willing to read books or lengthy scientific articles, go to town meetings (yes, they can be long and boring), and prepare ourselves for years and years of action.
Social media has distorted how we interact with the world. Posting about something can raise awareness, but we can’t stop there. We need to be ready to engage with these complicated issues for the long haul. That’s what I see in communities all across the world. The people who are willing to do the work—they are the heroes right now.
Just like the slow food movement, a global, grassroots effort to help counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, we need a slow advocacy/activism movement too, working to ensure everyone has access to clean water, air, and soil. The choices that we make about how to deal with these huge social issues can collectively influence and change the world.
We can get mad at the media, but we also need to discuss strategies to make media better. How can reporters and media outlets work to rebuild trust? They can start by continuing to cover stories, even after the dramatic moment has passed.
We all need to be vigilant and listen to the news and read the local paper to understand what’s happening in our communities. We can’t just skim the headlines and then sink into a feeling of overwhelm and inaction. We need to get involved. We need to be the ones to say, “How can I help?”
More often than not, decisions are made by those who have the most to gain or the most to lose. The community that will ultimately be dumped on or the consumers who are forced to drink dangerous water are often not part of the process, cut out by powerful corporations and big lobby dollars. In almost all of these cases, facts get twisted and misinformation campaigns are launched.
Case in point this week. I’d like to call out TheHill.com for publishing two opinion pieces that really made my blood boil. One about PFAS written by a chemical industry shill and the other from a corporate-funded think tank trying to muddy the waters (pun intended) on lead pipe replacement and infrastructure investment.
Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but these types of stories are dangerous and don’t include the full scope of the issue. Always follow the money and know that big industry loves to cherry pick science and downplay the impact of their products to continue to churn a profit. Even well-intended news sources can publish stories that misinform or try to influence opinion at the expense of public health and safety. You’ve gotta know when you’re reading opinion that’s usually from one source and when you’re reading a reported news story that will typically have several sources.
We also need to stay vigilant about the media we consume. It’s good to break out of our bubble and listen to sources on all sides, just to understand what each side is saying. It’s also good to discern for ourselves fact vs. fabrication.
Sharing Information Is Key
In a country that seems to be more and more split on the issues we face today, we need to remember how our humanness unites us. Now is not the time to fight against one another; it’s a time to come together for a greater good. I’ve seen too much waste, selfishness, greed, hidden agendas, and finger-pointing.
Sharing information and working together is our only hope. The solution lies with people in their communities working for change.
We don’t need to wait for anyone else to come save us. We can start small, start in our neighborhoods, and work to make significant changes that will impact generations to come. I’ve been inspired to devote my life to this work and I hope you will too.
In September, we’ll be highlighting more folks working on solutions. Know someone like that? Send us a note or drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll consider covering their work.