I’ve been inspired to write a lot of poetry about stories in the news in the last few years. These poems are usually cryptic and dark and basically reflective of the news stories I might have ingested that day, propaganda and all. I don’t write about the news in prose form because well, none of it seems very positive and about a million other people are writing about the same thing. So why this post now you ask? Why indeed.
I was inspired to write this after reading (shock horror) a news article about Everything Everything. I’m a big fan of this band (if you’ve never heard of them, head over to YouTube and enlighten yourself) and was excited to hear they finally had a new album coming out. In the article Jonathan Higgs (the front man of the band) talked about how most of the album is influenced by all the bad news that rolled out of the media over the last 12 months, throwing him into a pit of depression and creativity.
I could totally relate; as could anyone else who’s been keeping a vague eye on the news in the last year or so. Plus until fairly recently I also assumed that my only sources of creativity were my yearly visits with Depression (I always bring snacks to our visits but she never seems to have an appetite). But Jonathan had a reason for going down the emotional rabbit hole – he said the album was “a call to arms”, and that all the bad news just reminded him that the rest of us have to work towards generating the good news, otherwise what’s the point of it all? I am paraphrasing by the way, but that was the take home message for me.
Don’t worry, I’m not planning to actually generate good news (I’ll leave that to Russell Howard, and I would mostly be making things up if I tried), but I think it’s time I faced my long-time fear (of giving an opinion about something that actually matters) and commented on the bad news, or just ‘news’ as it’s often lovingly referred to. But where to start?
Perhaps the ongoing race and discrimination whirlwind surrounding the USA right now, that was only two days ago reignited by the shooting and murder of nine African American church goers in Charleston? No; it’s still too fresh and I take issue with the personal tragedies of nine families quickly becoming political, even though it is by its very nature, political. But clearly, I don’t know how to unpick that.
How about the other race story dominating headlines of Rachel Dolezal leading an NAACP chapter in Washington who for years had been less than forthcoming about the true nature of her ethnic background? Again, that has so many intricate stances that I feel ill equipped in my knowledge to really get into that conversation.
OK so maybe something that happened closer to home? I read a horrifying story today about a 21 year old pregnant woman from Peckham who was beaten up on the street by her ex-boyfriend and an accomplice and subsequently lost the baby. He’s on trial and likely going to prison, although recent history predicts that it probably won’t be for long enough. I could say a lot about this story; about the failings of the ambulance service to respond to the first call of assistance (did I mention that someone called an ambulance and 70 minutes later they had still not arrived, so police had to cancel the ambulance and take the woman to hospital, all because 999 operators deemed it ‘Low Priority’?), or that there should have been more support around this young woman (but that is under the assumption that support was even made available), or I could chalk it up to yet another victim of domestic violence being reported on with the same level of emotion afforded to museum openings, e.g. as just an everyday occurrence.
Reading about all this bloody terrible news just makes me angry, and then sad and then finally, bitter. That final one is always the feeling that’s left behind, because how else could you feel when people keep doing terrible things to each other, for personal gain and so forth, whilst the public plays a marathon game of Chinese whispers, trying to gather all the facts from different sources?
I’m sure if I was a journalist I would have a big speech in my arsenal about reporting on the truth at all costs, even if it’s uncomfortable/ horrific/ generally terrible to hear about it. I would agree with this speech on principle too in my current non-journalistic frame, but as I’m not a journalist, I do not possess such clear foresight about these things a lot of the time.
Yet I will still go to the news every day and see what tragedies have befallen the world that morning. For a while a few years back I stopped reading it entirely, and although I was happy in my ignorant bubble, I was very aware that I was entertaining ignorance and that didn’t feel great long term.
So I still read the news and take all the bad stuff in and stay informed even though I feel I would be protecting my emotional health if I didn’t. I know it’s going to be bad and more bad shit will probably happen tomorrow, but at least I’ve got words at my disposal.
Not that I’m necessarily going to comment on all the news, but I know I can provide my (pretty small) readership with some light-hearted stories centred around my own navel gazing and introspection, as a reprieve from all the reality happening over there somewhere *Points outside*.
This is my (completely self -involved) contribution to balancing out some of that bad news with something marginally good. And who knows; maybe henceforth I might comment on the bad news every now and again, when I can stomach it.
Image credit: Talkshow by Ben Davis from the Noun Project