Finding the Positive in a Negative Time

Struggling with Negative News

I have been struggling to write an uplifting Christmas post because, for the second year in a row, the nation has been struggling with so many things. Every day I read and hear bad news about Covid-19, the Omicron variant, overwhelmed ICUs, vaccine resistance, and people who died because hospitals were flooded with unvaccinated Covid sufferers.

Lumps of coal, negativity, positive, negative, mediaOn the political front, we have a widely divided nation, one in which Americans not only disagree—that’s fine—but actually hate one another. I hear talk of a second Civil War, of Americans asking when they can use their guns against people who voted for a politician they didn’t like. The first anniversary of the MAGA insurrection against the Capitol approaches quickly. Millions of Americans support a coup against a legally elected government.

The list goes on. It’s a dreary and dispiriting list to consider. All the Christmas gifts seem to be lumps of coal.

Adopting a Positive Outlook

What we see depends mainly on what we look forInstead of dwelling on these things, however, I choose to have a positive outlook. I found this relatively easy to do if I simply flip the lens through which the media filter the news.

  • At least 241,132,288people or 73% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 204,578,725 people or 62% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
  • A Public Religion Research Institute poll from November shows that 31% of Republicans, 72% of independents, and 92% of Democrats—and 67% of the overall electorate—don’t believe the 2020 election was stolen.
  • 22 large coral colonies born through the first Coral IVF trial on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 have grown to maturity. Microscopic larvae grew to the size of dinner plates, having survived a bleaching event, and are now reproducing themselves to rebuild the reef.
  • As of 11:00 am on Tuesday, the Earth has turned on its axis and the days are now growing longer.
  • The number of people filing for unemployment each week has decreased from 880,000 on January 22, to 205,000 now. Also, two million people are currently collecting unemployment assistance, down from over 20 million.
  • Bears are hibernating for the winter.
  • The child poverty rate in America has decreased by 30%.
  • Scientists discovered 10 new species in 2021.
  • Once again, Asteroid Nereus 660 flew safely past Planet Earth without hitting us.
  • After an absence of 3,000 years, Tasmanian Devil cubs have reappeared on the Australian mainland.

See? That wasn’t so hard. The news media focus on negative news because that’s what gets people to watch and read. If you simply turn the numbers around, you can often find positive news hidden in there.

Personal Positive News

Snowy house, winter, full moon, positiveFinding your own positive news can be even easier. For example, ask yourself whether you have:

  • A home to live in
  • Enough money to heat your home
  • Groceries for three meals a day
  • Good health care
  • Good health
  • A job with a livable wage
  • Reliable transportation
  • Good friends
  • Family members you love
  • A community of faith, shared interests, goals, and/or location

That was easier, wasn’t it? If you answered yes to many of these, congratulations! You have more than millions of people around the world and right here in America.

Surrounded by Good News

We are surrounded by good news and positive messages, if only we choose to see them. When you get up every morning thinking about what’s wrong with the world, the country, your family or your life, you miss the good parts.

There is only one Santa Wayne, but each of us has the ability to don the gay apparel of generosity, listening and patience, caring and giving. We can all be Santa. The magic is doing it without anyone knowing it’s you. Is there a giving tree at your office; or a food pantry in your town? How about the Marine’s Toys for Tots or donation boxes in supermarkets? What about an elderly person who would appreciate a visit and a cup of coffee?As long as I am upright, mobile, and breathing when I get out of bed, my day has started off just fine. Yes, I have disappointments just like everyone else. But dwelling on the negative simply allows it to grow all out of proportion.

People will help. Things will get better. Life will go on. And as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  He was actually paraphrasing (and simplifying) the passionate Unitarian Minister, and 19th-century progressive Christian, Theodore Parker, who once said:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I can calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice.”

Be of good cheer. Not because an angel told you, but because we all carry the spark of the divine within us. Nurture that spark every day and in every way you can. It may not be obvious, or even apparent, but over the long moral arc of the universe, it will emerge and come to the fore.

When it does, recognize it and celebrate it. Life is good. Merry Christmas, everyone.