[picapp src=”b/8/1/d/TV_News_Presenter_593d.jpg?adImageId=6994925&imageId=5232732″ width=”380″ height=”383″ /]There’s a Thich Nhat Hanh parable I love: A man goes for a walk and returns to find his shutters blown open and his important papers awhirl throughout the room.
Q: What should his reaction be?
A: Close the window first, of course. Then tidy.
In this story, the room represents our mind; and the wind, outside forces that create chaos. The lesson we are to learn is to determine which things pull us out of serenity, then shut them out of our lives for a time. At least until we possess a decent paperweight. 🙂
It’s a simple tale, right? Yet it had a profound effect, both on me, and my choice of news sources these days.
See, I happen to believe that the term “news story” has become all-too apropriate; that journalism that would present all points of view — including the presence of common ground — doesn’t sell. As a consequence, articles are deliberately crafted to emphasize conflict. Ours has become a world of creeping infotainment, Gentle Reader, where outraged op-ed hosts like Nancy Grace and Glen Beck, usurp their more balanced peers.
That’s why I’m so dang fricking proud of my city.
The reason? The coverage and response to a hostage-taking last week.
You see, in my part of the world, it’s still rare for violence to touch the average citizen. So one would think that when nine people are held at gunpoint for an entire day, they’d have plenty of reason to vent afterward in public. And that they’d be aided in that goal by the sensationalized news coverage I’ve come to expect.
Instead, this is what I did hear:
- a female hostage, her voice filled with compassion, as she explained the man really only wanted to be heard
- the police spokesperson, who emphasized that their aim was to keep everyone alive, including the gunman (They succeeded. :))
- CBC newscasters, who broadcast only on regular schedule, speaking in calm, grounded voices
- average citizens in talk radio, indicating that the system for injured workers probably needed to be examined. They felt the hostage-taker had been pushed to the breaking point and might be emblematic of a systemic problem.
- WCB administration, admitting they needed to look at their security, but that their procedures bred frustration and should be examined.
Not once in the past week have I heard a politician use the incident to push their agenda. Nor have I heard an indignant voice or a condemning point of view. All I can say is, “Wow! Bravo! Thank you, one and all!” Perhaps it’s because of this kind of civility that the original incident ended without injury or loss of life.
Can you imagine, peeps, if we could get the larger world to work like this? Can you imagine if real problem-solving and compassion governed our political, educational, and cultural institutions? The idea is almost more than my poor mind can comprehend. It’s akin to grasping the concept of infinity at a visceral level; or walking past a chocolate-mint candy bar without sneaking a corner.
Do any of you think this kind of honest, real discussion is possible? Have you witnessed it elsewhere? Have you given over to cynicism and watch the infotainment news shows because you know of no other option? Or like me, are you picky about where you get your information?
Also, any fellow Thich Nhat Hanh fans out there?