Why I’ve Been Trying to Avoid the Bad News of This Week

On September 11, 2001, a teacher came to inform my homeroom of breaking news only minutes after the first attack on the Twin Towers.  My fellow students and I spent the rest of the day shuffling from classroom to classroom, continuously watching the news coverage.  I saw the second tower fall, I saw the Pentagon in flames, I saw the burning remnants of Flight 93.  I was in 8th grade and I spent that September 11 watching the horrors of the worst terrorist attack on American soil unfold.  My 9th grade brother and 5th grade sister spent their September 11 much the same way.  When we got home from school, my mom was not pleased to hear that we watched the news all day.  “It’s not doing anybody any good to keep watching coverage on something like this,” she told us.  My dad must have agreed, because our television stayed off that evening.

It turns out that my parents instinctively knew what studies are beginning to show:  Surrounding yourself with news of traumatic events can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  Yet even as studies start to prove this, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the constant bombardment of news when disaster strikes.  With so many ways of getting information, from television news to radio programs to blogs, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid a constant stream of coverage.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter makes this nearly impossible.

But I am trying.  My husband and I found out about the Boston Marathon Bombing 30 minutes after it occurred.  He knew that he would have to discuss the story with people at church, so he wanted to watch as the news developed.  I told my husband that there was no sense in following the story that soon–it would take hours or days for anything definitive to form.  I read one article about the fertilizer plant explosion and then avoided the story.  I know next to nothing about the poison sent to a senator and the President.  I turned off NPR yesterday morning once I realized that they were doing constant coverage on the Boston Bomber manhunt.  I will admit that I am fairly ignorant of the current events of this week.

However, this does not make me a heartless person.  I mourn with my country this week for all that has happened to my fellow Americans.  But these events only show what I already know; that we live in a sinful world where tragedies will always happen.  I don’t need constant news coverage to tell me this.

Through long grief-darkened days help us, dear Lord,
To Trust Your grace for courage to endure,
To rest our souls in Your supporting love,
And find our hope within Your mercy sure.
“When Aimless Violence Takes Those We Love”, LSB 764:5  

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