“Break It Up” by Ed Dunn

We received a distressing email from our Mom the other day. Both the tone and the content of her words were uncharacteristic, and alarmed my brothers and sisters and me to a point of picking up the phone. Over a series of calls at different times, we needed to make sure she was okay.

Our Mom’s message expressed a deep concern for everything that’s been happening in our nation today – the political divides, the racial divides, the economic divides, and the fact that no one seems to be listening to anyone, anymore. She lamented how far we’ve come, so fast, and that, not in a positive direction. She then went on to worry about the world her grandchildren would inherit, and what chance, if any, they might have to make a difference in life. She was completely serious.

I know my Mom to be a realist. I know her to be an optimistic realist. But, with all that’s been shifting and colliding all at once of late, I also know she spends far more time than she once did in front of her television, in front of her favorite news and news-related programming. She admitted as much to me.

“Um…Mom, I have an opinion…if you would care to hear it,” I offered cautiously, after we’d talked for a while.

“Sure son, what is that?”

Trying not to be a, “know-it-all,” type son, I suggested, respectfully, that maybe it would be okay to break it up, to unplug for a bit and turn off the news at various points throughout the day. I suggested that the news is often negative, by design, and wants to keep us, not only glued to it, but in a constant state of fear and negativity. I encouraged her to, “pick up a great book again, listen to some beautiful music or watch an old favorite classic movie.”

I did stop short of appropriating a quote from William Shakespeare and passing it off as a direct reference to the 21st century American media: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Although Shakespeare’s quote may be how I see the noise the media loves to make, I realize I may not speak for everyone.

Regardless of our political leanings, Republican, Democrat or Independent, liberal or conservative, the news and news-related programming never seems to stop. The media thrives in a time like this, a time where there is never a shortage of content to cover. So often, the content is downbeat, and downright sad. So often it only focuses on the problems, and not nearly enough on positive solutions. I know for me, I’ve had to break it up, and at times, just turn it off. It can all be too much.

That doesn’t mean we don’t keep in touch and remain aware of what’s going on. We do. We have to. But we can do so in a way that serves both ourselves and the real challenges we face. We can break it up, unplug from time-to-time, and respond from a place that’s not rooted in fear or negativity.

As Christ-followers, Jesus reminds us that, “…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).  That’s for sure. And, that’s a great comfort. In him, we come from that place of peace, no matter what the news media may be covering.

–Ed Dunn is a member of the Board of Directors of Plain Truth Ministries

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