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What about sharing some good news for a change?

Couple celebrating good news

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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 03/22/24

Why do we always see "bad news" at the top of media reports? What can we do about it, as people called to share the Good News of the Gospel?

My friend told me she hates reading the news: “It always makes me feel so sad to see all the terrible things going on in the world. It seems like our world is just getting worse and worse,” she said.

It is absolutely true that the news tends to be miserably depressing: Research finds that “News coverage of current affairs is predominantly negative.” 

Given the avalanche of bad news we often see, I was very pleasantly surprised to come across a piece of really fantastic news on a global level. 

A “Platinum Decade”

The past decade has seen soaring improvements in health and mortality rates in Southeast Asia, such significant improvement that the WHO titled it “the Platinum Decade”:

A new report from The World Health Organization (WHO) — at 400-plus pages, they call it a book — covers the public health status of the Southeast Asia region, which comprises 11 countries, from the last decade …

The entire region (all 11 countries) was certified polio-free.

The entire region eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus, which can be transmitted during delivery if instruments or surfaces are contaminated.

Bhutan, the Maldives, North Korea, Timor-Leste, and Sri Lanka were declared measles-free. The entire region went from contributing 26% of global measles deaths in 2013 to 8% in 2021. 

Two countries eliminated malaria, and several others eliminated neglected tropical diseases like black fever, a parasitic disease spread by sandflies, and elephantiasis, a parasitic disease that causes disabling swelling.

Seeing worldwide suffering reduced in this way is a joyful cause for celebration. What an incredibly enormous piece of good news! It’s hard to even imagine how many lives are saved and changed for the better thanks to this work.

Where is the good news?

Why do we rarely hear about huge pieces of good news like this?

One reason is that stories that make people feel angry and outraged spread much faster than good news: Psychologists call this the “negativity bias,” meaning we pay more attention to, and better remember negative experiences. 

For the sake of the bottom line, news reporters often feel they have no choice but to share rage-inducing information.

Another cause, for good or ill, is the global nature of our society. In earlier times, you only heard about bad news that happened in your immediate area. Today, we are bombarded with accounts of bad news from every farflung part of the globe. Our brains were not made to absorb every tragedy on the planet, and like an oversaturated sponge, at some point we lose the ability to fully take in all the bad news we hear.

This bad news onslaught has gotten to the point that we tend to only believe the bad news or only think that the bad news is valid and important. 

Yet this bad-news focus stands in stark contrast to the Gospel message. We are called to be people of the Gospel, which means Good News: 

The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term god-spell, meaning “good story,” a rendering of the Latin evangelium and the Greek euangelion, meaning “good news” or “good telling.”

What does it mean to be “Good News” people against the daily tidal wave of bad news?

It’s hard to know exactly how to answer. We want to be fully aware of what’s going on in the world, whether good or bad, but it seems like just endlessly absorbing negativity isn’t it. 

Perhaps we might make an effort to share more good news than bad, broadcasting joy and hope whenever we come across it. 

Perhaps when we hear bad news, instead of ignoring it or getting angry, we might look for ways to help out and spread hope. 

We might help through prayer, volunteering our time and efforts, or donating to a good cause that can make a positive difference. All of these would be better alternatives than giving in to outrage or hopelessness. (We’d love to hear from you in the comments what you do to deal with the bad news in a constructive way!)

And perhaps part of being a “Good News people” might include noticing when we need a break from hearing bad news, too.

A humble suggestion from a not-so-unbiased writer

One way we might choose Good News is by reading Aleteia, where we try every day to bring you news that will inspire and uplift you. We try to make our news helpful and encouraging, instead of the same old doom and gloom. And, critically, even when we have bad news to share, we do so with the awareness that, as St. John Paul II said in his encyclical Redemptor Hominis, “Jesus Christ is the center of the universe and of history.” In other words, the Good News is present at the very core of reality.

We believe in our mission to share news that brings hope, and we hope you know you can always come here to see both good news and The Good News broadcast.

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