Feel overwhelmed by all the bad news we receive daily? You’re not alone.
Since the start of the pandemic, many friends have shared with me that they’ve stopped listening to the news because it makes them feel anxious or depressed, or that the high level of political partisanship while discussing the pandemic disturbed them. Several said that news seems to carry very little information but lots of negative or even hateful comments. The images of human tragedy shown also cause despair. While it’s important to pay attention to the news at this moment in time, the tone, and the way these are presented gains special importance.
I like to feel that I’m informed. It calms me to know that I’m learning about the science associated with COVID-19 and that I am not detached from the human tragedy unfolding, both in relation to the virus and to those protesting injustice across the United States.
I recently took a couple of basic courses from the World Health Organization , and through them, I found their press conferences. The WHO, like any other human institution, is not perfect — but its communication style is really very special. I immediately noticed the empathic and world-embracing tone, very different from the regional or international news we receive daily.
Something particularly interesting was the WHO’s emphasis on community: in one of the press conferences, when asked about the fate of developing countries facing the COVID-19 virus, they mentioned how strong these countries are in their sense of community, and how these strong bonds and understanding of the importance of collective well-being are some of the best defenses against the virus. In another press conference, the WHO mentioned that humility and kindness are also tools to fight the virus, and appealed to the world population to consider their altruism as a gift for others.
The Baha’i Writings say that “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding.” I think that listening to explanations given with a kindly tongue can help us better understand this tragedy.
There are other information sources that also frame the news with kindness, empathy, and compassion, and we should look them up. News about the activities undertaken by Baha’i communities all over the world can also help us stay up to date with what’s going on — not only about sadness and conflict, but also about the positive and hopeful moments taking place.
It’s refreshing to see things from a global perspective in these difficult times. The health agencies that regularly work in many continents share compassionate and kind discourse where all communities are valued and seen as having something to offer. With so many divisive voices in the news, it gladdens my heart to listen to it given with such compassion and seriousness.
With internet access, we can know the situations of people all around the world. As we cultivate our global vision and see how other countries and regions of the world deal with crisis in different ways, maybe we can also think more creatively and positively, and effect positive change all around us.
Although it’s important to stay updated, especially now, we can also choose sources that present information with empathy and draw from scientific knowledge, showing the efforts of small and large communities to mitigate the sufferings of their brothers and sisters. That kind of news, given with a kindly tongue, is truly nourishment for the soul.