If We Want a Truer Understanding of Our World

My father reads the local paper in the city where his sister lives. 

The city is many states away; the paper is a way he can have an understanding of her world. 

It's amazing, my father tells me, how many shootings there are in that city. 

I bet if I read the local paper, I'd be amazed, too. But I also bet there are no more shootings there than in any other comparable metropolitan area. It's just that the shootings are what the local paper chooses to cover. So our understanding of the world gets shaped by that. 

There's more than enough bad news to go around. But there's more than enough good news to go around, too. It just doesn't come to us as easily or as swiftly. 

"Farmers Market Goes Off Without a Hitch" and "Dog Euphoric to See Owner Upon Her Return from Cincinnati" will never be above-the-fold headlines. 

So if we want to understand the fuller truth of our world, I think we are charged with actively seeking out the stories of human kindness, of renewal, of generosity and playfulness.

These are quieter stories. We often have to forage for them. We may find them by slowing down - enough to see the man ahead of us tip double the cost of his coffee or the neighbor who leaves a bowl of water and dog biscuits on her stoop. We may find them in poetry and podcasts, buried deep in the newspaper or folded into one line in an otherwise grim article. 

These stories don't scream with the urgency of most above-the-fold news. And still, they are urgent. They are as true as everything else. And if we forget them, we can forget the fullness of the world we live and breathe in. 

When we say, Do you want the truth? the expectation is that the truth is bad, hard, difficult. Sometimes that is the case. This isn't about denying that. Pain, hurt, suffering are a part of every life. 

But the truth can also be beautiful, redemptive, unbelievably brave. And if we want a fuller, truer sense of our world, I think we are called to make our awareness expansive enough, generous enough, to include that. 

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Caitie Whelan