Yesterday I had a conversation with a dear friend about, well, the way we look at the world. We realized there is one major trend in our information infested western society. It’s called The News, also known as Let’s Show Everyone On A Daily Basis How Fucked Up The World Is. It’s being bombarded on us all the time: nature’s ruined, people shoot each other all around the world, lots of countries have nuclear weapons and will use them (probably tomorrow), there is an economic crisis and we will all have to work until we’re 85 but probably die of cancer before that.
Nothing but bad news. All the time. What genius ever decided that the news equals the bad news? No really? What good will it do me to know that there was a gas leak in a house in the south of my country and that an old lady died? How will anyone’s life improve by knowing that a man you never met, shot his wife and two children?
I’m not saying that we should ignore the bad things that are going on in the world (although in this case ignorance is most definitely bliss), but what I am saying is that we are taking the knowing of the bad a tad too far. There is no balance, we only ever hear and see the bad. I’m rooting for 50/50 news: 50 percent good, 50 percent bad. And not just an image of a newborn penguin in the zoo at the end of the 7 o’clock news. That won’t cut it brother!
I can’t help but wonder where our fascination with misery comes from. Is it guilt? Is it because so many of us in the West are living safe, comfortable lives and never knew hunger, while many others are starving, that we feel we don’t deserve to feel good about it? Do we feel like we have to trade in our happiness for our coffee machine?
Do we feel like we have to trade in our happiness for our coffee machine?
Another explanation could be that we have become a society that values the dark more than the light. Beauty and happiness are considered to be frivolous. Not for the serious, intellectual, modern-day man. We see proof of this way of thinking in contemporary art. As Barbara Govin, a French art student, wrote: ‘Art today no longer supports the qualification of beautiful. Beauty is ridiculous, something to laugh at, not fitting for contemporary art, which aspires to be reflected. Worse even, it discredits beauty. Beauty has unfortunately become synonymous with empty. Beauty wears the mask of the betrayer. Considered too easy, it is the trap in which one mustn’t fall. And yet it is beauty that makes sense.’
I wholeheartedly agree with Barbara. Lightness is essential in life. As is beauty. Beauty nourishes the soul, ugliness drains it. So let’s put more beauty and optimism in our sad little lives. Let’s give more awards and prizes to art that make us smile. Let’s give an Oscar to an actor in a hilarious role (hell, let’s give him two!). Let’s applaud those books that are easily read and make our hearts lighter. And while we’re at it: let’s value kindness over blind ambition.
There is so much beauty in this world. How daft are we, if we choose to only see the bad. How terribly ungrateful. What a waste.
Grief has GPS, it will find you
Life ain’t easy. Everyone living and breathing on this earth will have its share of unhappiness, anger, and sadness that goes to the core. This is a given. So why do we insist on wasting our time looking for it? Because newsflash people: grief has GPS, it will find you. Happiness however, happiness takes courage.