I have a fantasy that one day the news media will use their power to spread the kind of news that causes good feelings and good will between people. The news we read and see profoundly affects us and our view of the world. Now imagine if the news were mostly positive and helped make our sense of brotherhood stronger.

Do we understand the power of the things we read? People can be changed by what they read. There are books that have changed the course of history. One of the more well-known books that impacted history is Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin – said to be one of the causes of the American Civil War.

Stowe’s book was originally written as a magazine series. People looked forward to reading the next installment and spoke about the message Stowe was trying to convey. Through her writing Stowe touched the conscience of the people and convinced them that slavery was a problem the country needed to overcome.

Harriet Beecher Stowe got her anti-slavery message across so well that when President Lincoln was introduced to her he greeted her with So this is the little woman who caused the big war! 

Hitler’s Mein Kampf is another famous book that has had a powerful and convincing effect – albeit in a very negative way. Who knows how many people joined Hitler’s ugly cause because of his book? Unfortunately Hitler’s writing still impacts us today as anti-Semites continue to use his book as a bible. 

What about the power of visual news? A famous actor recently spoke on the radio trying to convince listeners that his newest movie is socially responsible. He said the movie has a full six-second shot of him putting on a seatbelt. He was sure that the six seconds would convince all those watching the movie that wearing a seatbelt while driving is important.

This conscience-saving move would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Are the producers willing to say that six seconds of viewing something positive can affect viewers positively – but that hours of negativity have no effect on us?

If we believe that a positive visual can affect us to such a powerful degree – and if anyone doubts the truth of that statement just ask yourself why companies pay a king’s ransom a thirty-second Super Bowl ad – just imagine how news of people being kind and caring can affect how we treat each other. Why not report the beautiful things that happen every day?

The other day as I was leaving the train station I saw a white woman helping a black woman over the ice. The media will never report such a kindness even though this kind of special thing happens every day. And if by chance the media cover a story about people crossing social lines to help each other you can be certain it’s treated as if were a rare occurance.

Reading hearing or seeing stories about kind and decent people serves to teach us that kindness and decency are alive in every shape and color. We should demand positive stories from the media. Kindness and positive feelings are contagious and will help make the world a better place.


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