> Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of an event that captured the world’s attention and it’s heart. A 3-year-old toddler, Jessica McClure, fell into and remained wedged in an 8 inch hole in the back yard of her home for two and a half days while the world held it’s breath and sent it’s prayers awaiting her rescue. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that only coverage of the Princess of Wales’ death exceeded the worldwide coverage Baby Jessica’s ordeal received.
As a matter of course, the media tries to engage and captivate us by daily marketing negative or frightening news. It’s not that they don’t also provide some good news…but if I had to guess I’d say the proportion is 90/10, at best.
In 2001, I had a talk-radio show in Pennsylvania called “Higher Ground” on which I looked at news, current events, and personal stories from the perspective of the highest and most inspiring meaning that could be found in them. No matter how awful the facts of any story, it is always possible to take from it a message and meaning that can uplift and teach us something important about ourselves and others.
One of the reasons I alway hear as to why the coverage is so negative is that it sells. It’s what people want to hear. And while that may have been true at a point in time, it’s no longer true. Just talk with people and they will tell you that they are daily tuning out and turning off negative news and talk shows because they just can’t stand it anymore. The challenge is where else to go? What are the alternatives and how to do we make the shift to seeing the world more positively?
Some people might say that the worldwide coverage of Diana’s accident and funeral was an example of how the viewing and listening public really do like bad news and morbidity.
They would be missing the point.
What both Diana and Baby Jessica had in common is that their “stories” tugged at the human heart. Both were forced to publicly struggle with extraordinary circumstances and both fought to survive those circumstances. It is what each of us goes through daily in our lives, in the microcosm, and something with which each of us must contend. Diana’s resilience in coming back from rejection and embarrassment time and time again…Baby Jessica’s holding onto life in defiance of the odds…these are stories that touch and inspire us to be the best we can be.
I still believe in the premise of “Higher Ground.” I believe that until we change the way we look at the world, we will not succeed in actually changing the world. The change must begin with each of us as individuals before it can spread to us as a society. We must see the good…the possibility for growth…in everything that happens to us and around us. We must speak to those observations and share the positive message. We must demand of those who market to us that they too, step up and change the way they present to us…or we will turn off and tune out in far greater numbers.
We do not vote every 4 years. We vote daily with the remote control, with subscriptions, with cable and internet providers, and we vote each time we purchase a ticket to a movie or buy a magazine.
Cast your votes wisely. Your life depends on it.
And thank you Jessica and Diana.
You inspire me.