The news cycle and how our children might change it

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, June 21 2016

There are so many things wrong with the international news cycle that it’s hard to know which is worse: a 29-year-old American who took the lives of 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, with 27 more recovering in hospital, or the knowledge that he might have been a repressed gay man living a lie who was also somehow a self-radicalized lone-wolf.

Then we have a Republican nominee for president, whose only credential for the top job in the White House is that he’s a reality TV star. He has no qualifications to run a country and no resume peppered with political offices he’s held. And yet, some are enthralled. He is feeding an anger that lies below the surface. A discontent that meets with approval when he says that the shooting should bring us to our senses and the only possible answer could be a ban on all Muslims entering the country, despite the fact that the gunman was American. Then we have the disappearance of a child in the alligator pools at Disneyworld. The fabric of our society is falling apart and while we sit quietly observing the events south of the border there is a lot we can learn.

I am disturbed that our culture has such an appetite for violence - on the television, on the news - we eat it up, hungry for the next instalment where right does ultimately prevail, but only by a very slim margin. The man, who wished he was with ISIS, put fear into the hearts of the nightclubbers. There were 15 of them jammed into the handicapped stall in the bathroom with more falling on each other to get away in the rest of the cubicles. Hearing that reminded me of those awful scenes when the levies broke after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and people were waving from their roof tops for rescue.

Worse is the taking of life and the idea that all lives are not equally worthy. When will there be an international call to help the Americans with their gun policy and have them come to the idea that all lives matter? Not just straight, white, university-educated kids from upper middle class families. All genders, all races, all sexualities have the same rights, and to think any differently is just wrong.

In the shooter we see all the hatred of someone whose only option was to kill those he might have loved. Given a caring community that might have said, “Why are you so angry?” or “How can I help?” things might have been different. If just one person had asked, he might have learned that it’s okay to be gay, just like it’s okay to celebrate your birthday, or pluck that grey hair. 

We need better brains to think outside the box. It’s probably naive to I think the way I do but I believe the answer might lie with our children. If we give them all the love we have, if we tuck them in every night and give them a cuddle, if we talk about why someone would murder people in a nightclub and how a child could disappear into an alligator pen, then perhaps, if we are very lucky, this next generation will stop and take stock of our world, in all its dysfunction and beauty. Perhaps we have a chance at turning our preoccupation for hate and violence into change for the better, where we are people helping each other with the challenges that face our planet. 

Gun violence is on the rise. There have been 300 attacks with guns this year in the US. Change comes as a collective, with people, perhaps our children when they are grown and willing to stand together to say no because it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps they will have the wisdom to reinstate the ban on assault rifles that Congress let expire under George W. Bush.

We can hope the early polls are right about the Republican nominee tanking. We need leaders that stand for fairness, beauty, love, art and equality. We need to teach our children that just because people are full of hatred we don’t have to change our course. We can fight for freedom in small, quiet ways and eventually, right and love will always win out.