Creating
Change
 

December
Men and The News


“ Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot

I would like you to ask yourself some questions. When was the last time you sat through a whole edition of the news and came away feeling really good or more empowered to take positive action? When was the last time that you picked up the newspaper and thought how pleasing those front page stories were? When was the last time you went off to work in the morning having digested the morning news and thought how lucky you were to be living in this wonderful, caring and safe world?

I used to watch the news every day. I used to take newspapers and read daily what a terrible place the world is, what dreadful people there are all around us. It is only in the last couple of years, since I have substantially reduced my intake of news, that I have realised what a negative and numbing effect this part of the media had been having on me.

What is it about us men in particular that makes the news so important? What is it that makes us feel that the news has some vital bearing on our everyday lives? What is it that makes us feel that we are being irresponsible if we do not watch or read the news? Are we afraid that we will somehow lose touch with the ‘real’ world?

The questions I would like us to consider are these. What is the real world? And how much of the news that we watch, listen to or read has any relevance to what is happening in our real world?

I believe that continual updating from the news makes men feel informed and important. The need to feel informed is one thing - the need to feel important is quite a different issue.

At work our importance is there for all to see. But at home, we are just dad, husband, lover. It is possible that this constant connection to important world events gives us a feeling of power again. Discussing wars, stock exchange crashes, deaths, seems to lend weight to our discussions and may help to make us feel more important. But is this because we feel that without these important events to discuss, we would have nothing of significance to say to our partners or family? Is it that we do not consider discussing such things as our feelings or thoughts, interesting enough for anyone else to hear? Is it that we feel empty without the stimulus fed to us through papers and broadcasts, so empty that we feel we have nothing of value to contribute?

The news can also be used as a barrier. A barrier that prevents proper sharing from taking place. Ask some men about their fathers and you will often hear tales of men stuck behind broadsheets, or of faces glued to news bulletins on the television.The news is commonly used as a way of avoiding meaningful contact with the people we most care about under the pretext that domestic problems are unimportant in the bigger world picture.

Better use of the news?

Imagine how you might feel if, for the rest of the week, you reduced your input of news and introduced more positive action such as reading a good book, taking a few walks or sitting down with the whole family to a meal. It may seem like a scary thought to start with. But it’s also possible that you will find yourself enjoying life more.

You may find yourself going off to work in a quite different frame of mind each morning. You may find yourself talking to your partner and children more and enjoying it, instead of cramming in conversations between coming home, dinner or watching television. You may find yourself taking part in a far more rewarding sharing with those people that are closest to you. You may find yourself working through problems instead of avoiding them. You may find yourself feeling generally happier and less stressed.

And yet by doing this, by absorbing less information, you will not suddenly have become an uncaring man. You will not suddenly have become an idiot with no understanding of world problems. You will not suddenly have become a social outcast. Neither will you find that your performance at work is adversely affected.

You may find that changing your relationship to the news in this way may help you to make better use of the news that you do take in, finding ways in which you may really want and be able to help. You might even find it in you to effect one small change in your own life that leads to much greater happiness for someone close to you. Paradoxically, this one alteration in daily life could help you to become an even more responsible human being.

By seeking to understand fully where our responsibilities begin and end we can fulfil our own purposes that much better. As we spend a little less time worrying about what is going on 5,000 miles away with people we’ve never known and are never likely to meet, we may become more aware of what is going on very close to us. Consequently we gain greater awareness of the various problems and joys that our life is bringing us. Turning our back on our own personal problems, replacing them with far more ‘important’ issues such as world news, will never make them go away. It just postpones the time until they will inevitably have to be faced.

It is worth remembering that our own problems and those of our family are the most important problems that exist in our ‘real world’. This is where we have to focus our attention if we are to serve mankind in the best way that we can. We cannot expect to see peace and happiness in the world if we cannot provide it fully for ourselves under our own roof. Our own life is our battlefield and it is up to us to find peace here if we want there to be any reflection of peace around us ‘out there’.

News is important. It has a vital role to play in society. It is the spread of information. If we can use this information effectively, by turning our reactions to bad news into positive action where desirable and detaching where not, then we will all benefit. But, like success, money or the future, we must not let news control us. We need to remind ourselves that fulfilling our potential is not so heavily dependent upon studying the world news as it is dependent upon our own clarity of mind.

Two questions to end on.

1) Do you have enough stimulus in your daily life to replace some of your news input (if not, what does that tell you about your life)?

2) Do you think you could achieve greater clarity in your life if you did reduce, even by a small amount, your intake of news. If you are in any doubt as to the answer to this question, then surely it’s worth trying a change anyway!

Checklist:

1) Consider limiting the amount of negative information you absorb everyday. Try cutting down for a few days on newspapers and news broadcasts.

2) In the time you now have free, introduce something into your life that makes you feel good - perhaps a walk, sport or gardening.

3) Listen more closely to the ‘news’ that those closest to you bring every day - the stories of their lives. Be prepared to share your ‘news’ too. Look to your immediate environment as the ‘real world’ that most needs your attention right now.

©2008, Barry Durdant-Hollamby

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Barry Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The Art of Change , a UK based organisation specialising in helping individuals and corporations to effect sustainable, holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks and seminars - all without notes or preparation! Barry is also the author of three books the latest of which is The Male Agenda - a book which seeks to inspire men to create greater life balance and happiness. He is the father of two daughters and lives in the South East of England. Contact E-Mail



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