How To Read the News and Still Have Peace

These days, it seems like the news is almost always negative. What we read online or watch on pretty much any news channel is often an invitation to bitterness, anger, despair, or sorrow due to injustice, evil actions, dumb decisions made by others, or even the fact that it can be hard to navigate what is true anymore. The negativity has become so intense, I know many people that have stopped consuming it all together for the sake of their sanity.

While there is nothing wrong with this approach, especially if your mental health is at stake, there are other options for those who would still like to stay in the loop with current events. If this is you, I would like to offer a few steps that you can take to help you with maintaining your peace while consuming the news.

  1. Only read the headlines, and pray over them. This is an easy method to catch a shallow understanding of local and world events without getting too overwhelmed by them. If something does grab your interest, by all means read more, but simply grazing the headlines can help us know enough about current events without draining too much of our energy that comes with becoming too emotionally invested in the news.

    Furthermore, praying over the headlines allows us to have an impact on the current state of things, especially the bad news. I try to pray for everyone in regards to the bad situations that occur, whether I agree with their choices or not.

  2. Keep in mind the Eternal Picture of Reality. Another way of saying this is to view current events as God would see them. This means that when bad events take place, it is not the end and evil does not have the final say. All events are connected together by God’s Providence as He brings good out all things, even the awful events perpetuated by humanity’s misuse of free will. Like the beautiful friendship that came about between John Paul II and the man who shot him in 1981, God can bring good out of anything.

    This viewpoint further allows us to grasp what we are truly up against in our daily lives. What I mean is that many news stories will convince us that we are fighting against other groups of humanity, but in reality, whenever we see evil carried out and portrayed on the news, we should keep in mind that there are evil forces about that are extremely influential. As St. Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Therefore, we remember that, as angry as we might get, the response to atrocities should never be hatred of others, but prayer and compassion for all those involved. We can want and demand justice, but we still should recall that the true source of these evils is beyond human thinking. It is evil that we are truly fighting against not other people.

  3. Learn More History. This will help us process and contemplate the dark events of our days more easily. By knowing the events of history, we can see how humanity has weathered many terrible storms in the past and has still been able to persevere. While we mourn the individuals who have suffered and died along the way, we can still gain hope from learning about the endurance of those who have come before us.

    We can take heart in knowing that the distressing events of modern times really aren’t unprecedented after all. A lot worse has happened even a generation ago and humanity has made it through. Yes, we have suffered along the way, but it is still comforting to me to know that it is possible for us to go through difficult times and make it through them.

  4. Learn More Scripture. This kind of fits with number 2 and number 3 in that it helps us gain an eternal perspective and know our history. What’s more is that the Bible tells us of many wonderful stories when God has come to people’s rescue during difficulty. This is encouraging because the same love that God poured out upon the people he saves in Biblical times, He pours out upon us. He is just as concerned with destiny as He was with Abraham, Moses, the Israelites, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and all of the other Biblical figures. This means that we can always hope in His help, which will lessen the blow when we read of difficult news.
  5. Be Merciful. Real mercy is truly bringing the good out of evil. Many equate this with forgiving others when we are slighted or mistreated, which is true, but it is merciful to do anything good in response to evil. How we can apply this then is to allow any frustration or rage or other negative feelings to motivate you to do good for others. This can include praying for people as mentioned earlier, but you can also go out and seek to initiate change in the world. Even if it is something as simple as starting a go-fund-me in response to a victim’s medical bills or volunteering as a mentor at a boys and girls club after reading about impoverished children.

    Basically this allows us to experience the negativity, but then let it motivate us to bring good into the world. This is true mercy. And then, selfishly, we can feel better as we respond to evil with good.

Unfortunately, these ideas cannot keep the events of bad news from happening. However, with them we are able to keep these events from increasing more bad things in our ow lives. We can help ourselves react better, as hard as it can be sometimes, and grow in our understanding of reality as a battleground between good and evil in which good ultimately triumphs. These steps can actually help us participate in this victory as well, which means they do more than simply help us process bad news. They help us bring more good into the world.

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