(Article changed on March 5, 2014 at 10:16)
The only ordeal more daunting today than delivering bad news is the reluctant concession that good news exists. Call me lighthearted. Or lightheaded. Call me Ishmael, for he survived mayhem. I'd think online readers, awash in doom and gloom, would break away now and again to savor the modest positives that surface.
Good luck betting against the onslaught of bad news bears. Even shaky optimists are dismissed as naive or foolish, sell-outs who mine the few tarnished valuables from establishment rubble. Yet, I fear online sites are coming to ape blood-curdling local TV newscasts teeming with school shootings, infamous felonies or systemic disintegration. Perhaps this reflects our species' reflex against threats, perceived or real: better to cry havoc than stay put to confirm hungry tigers in the shadows.
Indeed, the more dire the headline, the more readers feel oddly reassured: their impassioned favorites confirm that looming threats, like fascism or corrupt stupidity, isn't just here but certain to worsen. Doomsayers, like anyone else, are sometimes right, but too many Chicken Littles readily displace analysis or context with sweeping apocalyptic certainty. Every challenge is a crisis of unlimited proportions, thus the Ukraine face-off presents "doomsday."
Tidings of woe distort reality, inducing cynicism and discouraging activism. Hopelessness is no spur to get your head bloodied. Should we not delight, for example, that cigarette addiction is out of vogue, that AIDS breakthroughs have removed it from gruesome headlines, nor that a growing critical mass now considers creationism and climate change denial laughable?
Further, have not undeniable disclosures from heroic whistleblowers spotlighted evil-doing corners? Are we not raising consciousness about huge, "externalized" costs from environment calamities, nor publicizing real costs from our global empire, especially how "national security" manias produce the opposite? Neocon warriors are in retreat, as no one sane defends torture, dumb "wars against terrorism," or unilateral, pre-emptive strikes. All good. Rightwing worship of fiscal austerity is now exposed as utterly fraudulent, linked to its hysteria on inflation, debts and deficits. And outrage against rigged income and assets distribution grows weekly. Need one be Pollyanna to mine good news amidst the bad?
Leveraging Foolish Foes
Admittedly, media misery mavens spur my satiric talents to tease overblown rhetoric. Should we not savor warring Republican gangs, forever inventing new forms of party mortification? Have minority reactionaries ever wasted more time, money and PR serving their transparent Art of Non-Governance? Recall Karl Rove: "you can't beat something with nothing, so it is critical that the GOP offers an alternative"? Take heart when only the rightwing universe qualifies as alternative.