An encouraging start, and a first post

Welcome! If you are coming to this blog for the first time, or if you had been a reader of my previous blog (also called ‘The Belgian Takedown,’ for reasons explained in the About section), let me thank you for coming. It’s gratifying to know that someone felt this little corner of the internet worth a look. I hope you’ll keep coming back.

Over the course of time I intend to touch base on a lot of subjects which I find to be near and dear to me. Many will deal with issues we see in the media, and in most cases will deal with them in a much less inflammatory/fear-inducing/rage inducing way than the media does, and will attempt to inject some rationality into the mix. Yes, some of those issues will be controversial, so be ready. I don’t propose to speak for the world, only for myself. I also intend to include some of what this post is going to be about; namely, encouragement.  No, before you get all worried on me, this isn’t going to be a Care Bear land of Happy Rainbows, Sunshine and “Everybody gets along while we sing Kum-Bay-Ah.” The world has problems, to be sure, and there are a lot of very bad things that happen every single day. However, I also believe that much of what we’re exposed to is generated in the way it is for exactly that reason; to KEEP us afraid. I believe we need to be reminded that, overall, the world is not a place of constant horror and fear and that there are still good people and good things that happen, in spite of all the bad. If, using this blog I can help someone see that, or give them a boost, or even just make them stop and say “Huh, I never thought of it that way,” then I’ll be happy.

So, that being said, let’s get started, shall we?

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of running across a two part interview (and indeed, other interviews and lectures as well) by an author by the name of Gavin DeBecker. I would heartily recommend that you check out this two part interview, done on the anniversary of 9/11. The links are below.

Seriously. Go ahead! I’ll wait.

http://youtu.be/slPg3y-auNc (Part 1 of the interview)

http://youtu.be/BgI1MQ47H5c (Part 2 of the interview)

Did you check them out? I hope so. Listening to him speak on that show encouraged me to pick up another book by him entitled Fear Less: Real Truth About Risk, Safety and Security In A Time Of Terrorism. (I say another because I had already read his book The Gift of Fear And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, which was literally life changing for me) That book, like the interviews that are linked, speak on the tactics used to keep people in a state of fear and, in perhaps a more insidious way, believing that there is nothing that they can do to protect themselves; only “The Government,” or “Men” or some other outside group can protect them. It illustrates the differences between genuine fear (which, in his words, only has your best interests at heart), worry, and anxiety, and how we can recognize and deal with each of them.

Ok, you’re saying, so you like the guy and his writing. So what? Well, so this. Stop a moment. Take a breath. Think about the world we live in and how it has changed over the past 20 years. We are, literally, connected to every corner of the Earth, 24/7. Every time someone drops of a heart attack somewhere, we can know about it. If a plane crashes, or a fire kills people, we know about it. Yet, when you look at the realities of life, the chances of you or I being affected by any one of those things are still staggeringly small. Take commonsense precautions? Absolutely. Be careful and cautious of where you go, what you do and whom you do it with? Absolutely. Walk around in fear, thinking that there are predators waiting for your children behind every bush, and the bushes that don’t have predators have rapists, robbers or rapists who rape robbers? NO.

Consider these things:

1. Every day, ordinary homicides claim 1.5 times as many Americans as those who died in the Sandy Hook massacre

2. In most years, things like bee stings, deer collisions and other mundane causes of death kill far more people than terrorist attacks

Why don’t we hear these things? Simple. It’s not ‘good’ news. No reporter has ever stood in a peaceful city and said “Well, here we are in a city that has not been bombed.” The news exists for a reason. It exists for ratings, for viewers, and to keep YOU, the viewer, coming back. It does it through fear, primarily, and that fear is taking a dreadful toll on us, as people. As Mr. DeBecker said, NOTHING gets our attention like fear. However, as he also said, the one headline you never hear is, “Next up a new study that says television news causes stress, suicide, drug addiction and hypertension.” 

How do we fight it? That varies by the individual. For me, I am very careful about what news I watch, and what sources of news I trust. When I see a story, I tend to double check it and see if the outlet I saw it on is reporting the story in its entirety, or in a way that is slanted for one reason or another. For all of us, critical thinking is a good start. Listen to the words being used. Are they inflammatory? Frightening? Do they fit the story? Look behind the words to see what’s being reported. Do the headlines/words still fit? Finally, do your research, and do your homework. Remember that the news exists to hold YOU, the viewer, to their channel. They’re not going to report on the good things; crime rates dropping, overall, or homicides being down. They’re going to do what they have to do to keep you watching.

Even if it kills you.

Have a good day, and God bless, my friend!

For further reading, I recommend this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/12/the_world_is_not_falling_apart_the_trend_lines_reveal_an_increasingly_peaceful.html