I’ve decided to go on a news fast.
Now there are many types of fasts my body could use: a sugar fast, a cheese fast, a burrito fast. But for now I choose a weeklong news fast . . . and I’m very excited about it.
For the last year, I’ve been hitting the news hard, often multiple times a day. When I’m not consuming news, I’m listening to late night comedians talk about the news….which is basically indulging in more news….only with the occasional laugh.
As a consequence, I’ve noticed my mood often responding to the news. I notice anger coming up and hopelessness. I notice sadness, lots of sadness. Unfortunately, the news is seldom a happy place.
What keeps me addicted to the news is that I feel it’s my job to be witness to the suffering in the world and endeavor to make whatever difference I can. I feel my stomach clench with guilt as I write this over never doing enough.
Who am I to turn a blind eye to the news for a week?
Who am I not to turn on the news and witness the suffering?
Yet the belief that it’s my duty each day, week in and week out, to make myself miserable and overwhelmed by watching the news is very odd. It’s like a doctor who has twelve sick patients and on rounds decides make himself sick too because his patients are.
A doctor’s job is to aid in healing, not to make him or herself sick with grief.
I can’t put love out into the world if I’m constantly making myself sick with worry about the state of the world.
It’s important to fill myself with beauty and wonder, like the sunset above which I beheld in South Dakota a few weeks ago.
This world is chock full of beauty and wonder. There is so much delight to be found in nature, in technology and architecture, art, literature, in other people, in ourselves. The list of beautiful and delightful experiences in the world is limitlessness.
But if we become blind to beauty and wonder out of fear, we don’t benefit.
The intention of my weeklong news fast is to become more present to this beauty and wonder. I hope it works!
Does my news fast mean I don’t care about suffering?
Does it mean I will refuse to lend a hand when I can?
Not at all!
I’m reminded of flight attendant instructions: “put your oxygen mask on before assisting the person next to you.” Maybe this is true of beauty and wonder too.
We must fill our hearts with beauty and wonder. Then, from there, give that beauty and wonder back to aid a suffering world.
I’ve been struggling with these questions since I was in grade school. I definitely do not know all the answers that I want to know. But I’m going on a news fast for a week.
I’m excited about it!
What’s your relationship to the news?
Do you frequently engage with the wonder and beauty of the world around you?
What do you believe is the best way for you to aid a suffering world?
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.