Unbiased media seems to be an oxymoron these days with more journalists pushing an agenda instead of actually uncovering the facts. It’s a shame that most of the major news networks prefer to pander to the groupthink ideals of lifetime academic types, rather than do the gritty work and take a hard look at what really needs to be discovered and shared with the citizens of this country. I recently read a book called “Spin Masters” by David Freddoso that addresses this issue, dealing in particular with how the media unfairly favored Barack Obama, manipulating and pushing positive stories and almost completely ignoring the negative ones. I believe the rise of new media journalism has helped to counteract some of the overwhelming bias that occurs with the major news networks and publications (Fox on the right, and all other major networks far to the left), but unfortunately they have not been able to grab the mainstream attention it would take to really turn things around. People who want to be informed can uncover the truth for themselves, but ignorance of media bias and apathy seem to prevail, giving these media conglomerates all the power they need to majorly influence public opinion in whichever way they choose. I urge everyone to take a second look at their news sources, and read “Spin Masters” if they need a little (or a lot) of encouragement.
Recently I began to look for charities I could support that focus on lasting change and true impact, instead of quick fixes and handouts. The sad truth I discovered was that I could not seem to find any charity in my area that focused on giving people the tools to help themselves, instead of throwing money and resources at problems without really examining how to permanently fix them. I decided to find out why that is, and see if there are organizations anywhere that focus on true change instead of handouts, mission trips, and service projects. During my research, I discovered the book Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton the founder and president of Focused Community Strategies. FCS is an organization that transforms communities from the inside out by emphasizing and building upon their strengths, and giving the residents the tools to organize and help better their own situations.
In his book, Robert emphasizes how handout charities hurt those they intend to help, strip them of their dignity, and teach them to lose their self-reliance and hope for internal change. He points out that addressing needs during an emergency crisis situation is important, but in areas with chronic problems strategies must develop to help the residents lift themselves up to better circumstances, rather than letting outsiders come in and attempt the more traditional charity model we have come to accept and promote.
I won’t go into all the details or specific strategies of the book here, but I encourage anyone interested in helping others better their situation to read it. If everyone took a second look at the long-term effects of the traditional charity model, I think they would see quite a different picture than what they have been holding in their head.
Most of all, it’s important to focus on changing things in your own community as well as others. If everyone focused on bettering their own community, think of all the change that could take place!
“All knowledge is interesting to a wise man.” -Matthew Arnold
I’ve always been an advocate of self-education versus the “traditional education” so many people have come to accept as our common standard of learning. I find it interesting that some children grow up loving to read, find it interesting to explore all types of subjects on their own, and carry that passion into adulthood, while others detest the very idea of picking up a book that wasn’t forced into their hands by an authority figure. It’s amazing that we have so much information at our fingertips with the internet and technology today (although it is often referred to as the “misinformation highway”), and I wanted to share a program that I began listening to a few years back that covers all types of topics in a fairly balanced format. You can listen to “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook on NPR, but all the shows are available online (and you can pick the ones that sound the most interesting to you). Listen and learn new things!
I am currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and today I wanted to share a little nugget that made me smile.
In chapter 5 Gretchen writes about how her love for children’s literature was slightly embarrassing to her, but she wanted to delve into that pleasure a little more. She included this quote from C.S. Lewis that made me smile, and reminds us all to enjoy the things we enjoy without being ashamed.
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Recently I’ve started to focus on the importance of gratitude in life. It is essential to your overall happiness not only to go through your day being grateful, but to really focus on making a conscious effort to be specific. My way of doing this (following Oprah’s advice) is taking time each night before bed to write down 5 specific things I was grateful for during my day. They are usually very simple things, such as a stranger being kind, or celebrating a small success that made me happy. I trust that what and who come to mind first are the things and people I would like to see more of in my life. By intentionally celebrating what you are grateful for in life, you are telling the universe to deliver more of that to you. So use your energy and imagination to write down 5 things you are grateful for each day, and be specific! You will start seeing more of these blessings come into your life before you know it.