But after a few months, I usually start to realize that keeping up with the news is incredibly depressing. It's also frustrating because you have to hear about things like Washington State senators giving themselves a $30 a day pay raise (per diem when they're in session) when they haven't managed to fit voter-approved Cost of Living Adjustments for teachers into the budget in the last 6 years. When I start to get overly frustrated or overly sad, I'll fold up my "I have informed opinions!" banner and put it on the shelf. And I'll take a break from the news for a while. Typically until I start feeling ridiculously uninformed again.
Right now, I'm in an upswing. I read the newspaper for at least 10 minutes as I wolf down my breakfast/coffee each morning. I'm listening to NPR (even with the Spring Pledge Drive giving me a massive guilt trip). I'm keeping up to date on my countless podcasts as I walk the dogs and run.
But I'm starting to notice something. There's been a lot of tragedy in the news lately. I don't know if it seems like a lot because of current swing of my news-following pendulum or if it's actually because there's a lot of tragedy in the news right now. However, in the past week or two alone, the paper has been filled with updates on the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia flight 370, the crash of the KOMO News helicopter, and the catastrophe of the Oso landslide, to name a few.
Just look at today's headline:
|"Enormity of loss" is a hard thing to wake up to. 25 people found dead, 90|
still missing after 5 days. It's hard to be positive about the prospects of
what the news will be for the days to come.
The speculation...that's what really bothers me about it all. I might stick with the news on a regular basis, despite the sadness of each tragedy, if it weren't for the speculation.
Every morning as I open the paper and watch lives turned into death toll tallies, I read as news reporters speculate on one never-ending question: "Why?"
I don't blame them for asking the question. Asking "Why?" seems to be something innate in us as humans. With discovery of each new tragedy, the immediate focus of our minds always becomes "Why?" Why did the Tsarnaev brothers bomb the Boston Marathon? Why did Adam Lanza choose an elementary school as the target of his shooting spree? Why did flight 370 disappear? Why did the chopper go down? Why did the landslide happen?
I am not exempt from all of this questioning. I want to know why.
I even seek the "Why?" in more personal and even often trivial aspects of my life. Why couldn't I hit my sub-4:00 marathon last year? Why am I injured? Why did I knowingly decide to consume so much dairy in the last 2 days, resulting in an extremely uncomfortable multiple-bathroom-stop run today? Why am I 30 and alone (see previous question)?
And after adopting Penny, guess what the most common question I get is. If you guessed "Why?," I am not giving you a gold star. Because it was way too obvious. "Why?" "Why was Penny the one?" "Why was she at the shelter?"
|"Why would someone give up this adorable little destroyer|
of well-made beds?"
And if I did know the answers to all these why questions, it won't change what happened. I will still have a painful knee. Penny will still be my dog. There will still be a classroom full of first graders, including their teacher, that lost their lives way too soon. There will still be 90 people missing 5 days after a massive landslide. There will still be 239 people that disappeared over an ocean somewhere.
Yet we still ask "Why?". We search for answers, often in vain. But I see one main division in the our world of Seekers of the Why. I may be missing something here, because I have done absolutely zero research on this besides searching through my own thoughts, so I claim no expertise. But as I see it, Seekers of the Why fit into two groups: Seekers of the Why for Blame and Seekers of the Why for Change.
Let me explain more fully:
Seekers of the Why for Blame are looking to pin fault. They want retribution. They want punishment. They may even want revenge. This is not a bad thing. Consequences should be sought for horrid actions and neglect of responsibilities (safety, supervision, etc). But sometimes I feel as though Seekers of the Why for Blame are going too far.
This is what bothers me about the right-hand subheading of today's paper. Landslides happen. Maybe they logged a little too close. Maybe warnings to residents of their unsafe habitat were ignored. But I don't think that anyone can be blamed for this. We live on a changing, shifting planet. Blame who you want, but when it comes down to it Mother Nature will always have the final say.
It's the speculation that drives me nuts. There was an article last week about the pilot of the KOMO news helicopter. According to the reporter, he worked 2 jobs. He could have been over-exhausted. Are we so desperate to find blame that we are willing to speculate without fact even before the dead have been mourned?
Seekers of the Why for Change are looking for something different. They are looking to learn something from the mess we've gotten ourselves into. Why did Adam Lanza and the Tsarnaev brothers carry so much hate? Why was there a neighborhood so close to an unsteady cliff prone to landslides?
Seekers of the Why for Change may believe in consequences for the guilty, but they also believe that is not enough. We need to know why the guilty became guilty so that it doesn't happen again. Place blame where it is necessary, but until we know why those at fault walked the broken path they walked, we are doomed to repeat their errors.
I think that both factions of Seekers of the Why exist because we are human. We are faulty and error-prone and imperfect. We need both kinds of Seekers and cannot have one without the other. But in the news, I've noticed a trend of reporting in only one category.
And I guess my question is: