The story we tell ourselves is important, as are the stories told to us and what we take from them. We're told that we're divided — now more than ever. I'm just not convinced.
Strong narratives string themselves into society, and usually with valid reason. Though, at some point, we get to a place where we stop questioning the narratives, where our curiosity recedes. Are we really that divided? I stay curious in that question, and when I do, I find the answer to be an unequivocal "no."
It all depends where we choose to place our focus. That doesn't mean to ignore all the bad, or the division, but to acknowledge and see the beauty of life and our general unity.
One thing that allows me to see this unity and beauty is limiting my consumption of the news that may otherwise cloud me from seeing the good.
What percentage of the news that you consume on the internet do you find is generally hopeful and positive? I find it’s 5-15%, and no matter how strong-willed you are, that’s going to make digesting information in a meaningful and productive way difficult.
Negative news sells, as do headlines that pique our curiosity and cause us to click on them to read more.
You know what's curious...have you ever found out after the fact that a positive news story, one that made you feel hopeful, was actually made up? I haven’t! Yet a lot of negative news stories, often with gross inaccuracies, fly through the interwebs. It can be fun in the moment to read an article you agree with that trashes someone or something you disagree with, sure, but does engaging with that story truly cultivate what we want from our world: truth, kindness, and unity?
We’re ingrained with a strong negativity bias, our brains love these quick hits of doom & gloom news, but they're not serving us.
Though I'm bouncing around a bit, and perhaps I no longer have one precise message I'm trying to convey, there are three points I feel are worth highlighting and that I hope have been conveyed:
1. I don't believe the narrative that we're divided. I find reasons why that can't be the case every day, and I want you to know that not everyone thinks we're divided.
2. I know that my limited consumption of news allows me to remain open and hopeful. Let’s not be naive about what's going on, but at what point are we consuming more news than is helpful? I would argue that most of us are far beyond a helpful level of consumption.
3. A question. What do you want to see in our world? And how can you more greatly contribute towards that today?
Yesterday I watched a video where Jim Paschke, longtime Bucks broadcaster, shared that he would be retiring at the end of the season. When he shared what he's going to miss most, here's what he had to say:
... I'll miss the people. Living in the culture of basketball has been so enlightening to me, being around that diverse culture and learning about people and learning that, we're all alike, we're all the same. That's been the greatest blessing of my career and my life actually.
Sometimes it can feel like we're divided, and with information overload, there are a whole lot of things to be divided on. At the same time, as Jim Paschke reminds us, "we're all alike, we're all the same." Let's not forget that.
Look for the positive happening in our communities and in our world. When you once again hear the narrative that we're more divided than ever, remind yourself of all the times that showed you that can't possible be true. We're divided? I'm just not convinced.