I often feel like I’m living in the darkest time of this country. The former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is testifying, government leaks to the media are abundant, there are rumors of Russian ties and interference.
But when I really think about it, I’m not sure we are living in the craziest time.
In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy — the president of the United States — was assassinated. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. JFK’s brother Bobby was assassinated and then Lee Harvey Oswald — the guy who shot JFK — was, as you may have guessed, assassinated.
In the 1970s, our government was playing spy games with each other, Nixon got caught partially by recordings he made of himself, and the Vietnam War was going on.
In the 1980s, Los Angeles rioted.
Even near the beginning of my life, some nutjobs flew planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
What all those times of craziness where missing was the internet — at least omniscient, omnipresent version of today. Every piece of information about what’s going on in the world is now at our fingertips.
When the president does something stupid, I know about it within 15 minutes. When a bomb launches somewhere in the world, I immediately know about it. When some pinhead carries out an act of terrorism for some false cause — whether claiming to be conservative, liberal, ISIS, or whatever — I hear about it.
While the major events of the past are shocking when you really think about them, they don’t seem as overwhelming. In part because they happened in the past, and I wasn’t alive, but also because in those times, the public wasn’t being overloaded with tragedy, stupidity, anger or anything else.
I can’t decide if the unlimited access to information is helping or hurting. I would like to think that with reports of violence, intolerance and the like coming in almost daily, we might come together as a country to effect change. When we see what happens when guns fall into the wrong hands or when the voices of hate are given a microphone and do something about it.
But on the other hand, I’m not seeing that. I’m not seeing a change. It seems that when these incidents of hate, xenophobia, intolerance or sheer stupidity are constantly fed to the masses, the masses don’t stop to think about how to fix it. They don’t look at the events that caused something like this to happen.
Instead they split and take sides. Yell at each other, often about things that don’t have anything to do with the tragedy at hand.
I think the constant flow of information is great. I think we need to keep hearing about everything that happens around us. Keep the 24-hour news cycle.
But these things have to be couple with some introspection if it is ever going to get better. On an individual basis and as a nation. So the next time something really boils your blood on TV, Facebook, Twitter or wherever, please, take a deep breath and think about the other side. Think about the policy, the events, the attitudes or ideas that led to what you’re looking at, and think about how you can make it better or keep it from happening again.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.