Archive for the ‘News’ Category

I go through phases of avoiding the news — it’s too saddening and depressing to always read about the atrocities going on across the world and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by a real sense of impotent rage against the evil that lives amongst us. My self-imposed news ban never last long though, as I never want to be too disconnected from the mess of it all.

I’ve been checking the news with a new urgency in the past week or so, hoping there will be some good news about little Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old who was snatched from her bed in her family’s holiday home in Portugal. Those images of her sweet innocent face are heartbreaking and her abduction is the stuff of nightmares. We really can only begin to imagine what that little girl’s family are going through; they may be surrounded by support, but they are living through a special kind of private hell just now.

It is highly likely that someone, somewhere, will know or will have seen something which could help the police in their search for Madeleine. There is now a £2.5m reward offered to anyone who can provide information that leads to her return. I’ve also heard that Madeleine’s family are hoping to use the power of the internet to spread the word of her disappearance and to keep the case in the public eye. It may appear that the case has had widespread publicity but I’ve heard that there are areas in Europe where a large number of the population have not heard of Madeleine’s abduction.

I cannot bear to think about the creature or creatures who took the little girl. I think they have a defect which cannot be fixed.

The international number for Crimestoppers is: +44 1883 731 336

Calls can be made anonymously.


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Switching off?

birds.jpg      I’m going through a phase of trying to avoid the News again. Or at least rationing it – I’m a bit of a news fiend and I usually check on world affairs a couple of times a day. I know we have a responsibility to keep up with current events but it’s just so depressing.

And you can hardly believe a word of what you read/hear/see from most media outlets. By the time information is filtered through various ideologically-driven agendas, what we are sometimes left with are not facts but versions of facts (my critical faculty is not entirely absent but just now it seems to be in serious danger from overwork). I don’t even trust the BBC – in fact I especially don’t trust the BBC. Not one little bit.

Now all the Bird Flu business has flared up once more. There’s no way I’m not going to be keeping my eye on that. It had to be birds. Again. I’m not a big fan of birds.  They’re always given me the creeps – even before I watched the Hitchcock film. Crows, in particular, seem to have a look of evil intent.

Not that I’d ever wish a bird any harm: I don’t even eat them, being (mostly) vegetarian since early childhood. I’m not sure why my parents converted the whole family to non-meat eating – they were definitely not happy-clappy types and our vegetarian status did not go down too well in our scotch-pie munching neighbourhood. I have rebelled in adulthood, however, and have the occasional delve into carnivore territory, with the odd fish supper and a twice-yearly binge on the Vegetarian Downfall (bacon sandwich). But chicken or any other bird-related product has never knowingly passed my lips (I stress knowingly, because I am fully aware of how sneaky eggs can be).

But back to the News – do you think we’d be happier, as individuals, if we were not constantly bombarded with reports of all the pain and suffering that is going on all over the world? I know that if we all switched, en mass, to this head-in-the-sand approach, the world would ultimately become a much more dangerous place, but I’m just wondering about the negative long-term psychological and social effects of being flooded with doom-laden messages on a daily basis.

Compassion fatigue is a well-documented phenomenon, as is the political usefulness of having a population in a controlled state of anxiety.  But I also wonder if our senses are becoming so dulled that we’re almost at the stage of tolerating the unsupportable. We’re not yet unshockable but it takes a little more each time to leave us gasping — at least when it does not impinge on our lives in any direct way.

But remove the News and we also take away the element of the ‘there-but-for-the-grace-of-God’ effect and any benefits we experience from feeling we are in a position of relative good fortune and security. Does knowing about a hurricane killing hundreds of unknown people half-way across the world make us feel just a bit more grateful to be alive and safe?

I suppose, if I’m being sensible (not something I’m prone to), the whole thing comes down to balance and getting everything into perspective. So, that’s where my rationing comes in. Unless we really are hit by a pandemic, a once-a-day News check should be sufficient. We’ll see how long that lasts.

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