Much Too Much

I have to stop paying quite so much attention to the news. For medicinal reasons. The following is a short list of fairly recent news stories that I can't get out of my head:

2006 was declared the hottest year in Britain since 1659.
One of the six ancient ice shelves remaining in the Canadian Arctic (this one was 41 mi.², containing ice that was 3000 years old) broke off.
A pig farmer in British Columbia is charged with 6 murders, because that's all the remains that were found. He allegedly claims to have killed 49 women. And dismembered. Don't forget about the dismembering.
The Middle East is more destabilized than it has been in living memory.
The doomsday clock has been beset. It was seven minutes to midnight, now it's five.
Every 30 seconds, a child dies from malaria. These are preventable deaths - all you need is mosquito netting and aids programs are cutting back.
Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada and he’s leaving his mark.
Ashley was bonsaied.
Tigers are becoming extinct.

I can't take it anymore. It's too much horror, it hurts too much. In order to continue being plugged into the news, I'd have to deaden myself to the impact and that would hurt too much, as well.

I believe in keeping myself informed, of being aware of what goes on in the world around me. But after I've been keeping myself informed for a while, it takes on a different quality, an almost compulsive one. The more news I read, the more news I need to read, the more information and news analysis I must process. The more intent I am on being informed, the unhappier I get, becoming increasingly unable to prevent the horrific acts and images from swirling around in my mind during dinner, brushing my teeth, paying bills, laughing with friends. I feel such despair, such fury, such impotent rage at a world in which we let our leaders get away with screwing over the earth and the world, because let's not forget: we elected them. Based on ridiculous promises of e.g., tax cuts that don't actually save you more money than a cup of coffee a day, we usher them into power where they proceed to slash and burn the programs that make us civilized, help for those who need it, education, healthcare, environmental policies and once they have razed the country/earth sufficiently, we replace them with another government, but don't actually give them the mandate to do anything but the smallest changes. The first time David Miller ran for mayor of Toronto, his opponents were promising tax cuts. Miller didn't. Miller said that in order to have the kind of Toronto that we could be proud of, the tax money was needed and there’d be an increase. He was elected. Why can't that kind of integrity and vision be repeated on a national basis? Hell, on an international basis? Maybe then we would leave the world a slightly better place instead of continuing to treat it and other living creatures with such wanton disregard.

And this incessant 24-hour news cycle isn't helping.
Whenever I swing by the Toronto Star's web site, new stories have been added with a small notification of when: 112 min ago, 62 min ago, 17 min ago. Knowing that it has only been 57 minutes since a hundred people were killed by a bomb contributes to the sense of urgency, makes me feel that I'll never catch up. And I don't know what it is I think catching up will do - I guess some part of me feels that if I read about it, maybe it will help. Maybe bearing witness will at least honour the dead and maimed. Maybe it will help stem the tide, but it doesn't, does it? And so, after awhile, inevitably I return to the same old point where I feel utterly helpless in the face of such unrelenting nightmares.

I watched an interview with Dan Rather when he talked about how the 24-hour news cycle and its constant appetite for the new - hence the "27 minutes ago" - has meant the demise of news analysis, of thoughtful discussion of historical trends and so, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes, because we don't stop long enough to learn from them.

I've decided that I'm going to learn from mine. I'm going on a news fast (well, except The Daily Show). So last night, I stayed far, far away from anything to do with the State of the Union address and watched Bringing Up Baby.

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