The Reason I Don’t Watch the News

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Granada, de Cine This morn­ing as I was head­ed to the kitchen to pre­pare a late break­fast for my fam­i­ly I stopped for a moment to catch a par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pelling bit of news on an inter­na­tion­al news chan­nel. There was this loop­ing reel of footage that kept show­ing the body of a tiny girl wrapped in a white sheet. She was dead after hav­ing been bru­tal­ly raped by two men who had kid­napped her. This footage also showed the poor girl’s shell shocked par­ents. Their grief was pal­pa­ble.

This is why I don’t watch the news.

Accord­ing to the news report, the kid­nap­ping and rape of young women is near­ly epi­dem­ic in India which is sec­ond only to the Unit­ed States. The reporter inter­viewed young women on the streets of India regard­ing the recent pas­sage of laws that would mete out severe pun­ish­ments to any man con­vict­ed of rape. This was all com­pli­cat­ed by the fact that the num­bers of women who are actu­al­ly will­ing to report the crime are min­i­mal due to the shame of hav­ing been the vic­tim of such a crime. Yes, the vic­tim is shamed and blamed.  The per­pe­tra­tor? Not so much. This is misog­y­ny at its worse, when it is woven into the very fab­ric of the cul­ture. It is sad, unjust, and plain hor­rif­ic.

This is why I don’t watch the news.

But, just so we don’t point blam­ing fin­gers at India, or some coun­try in the Mid­dle East, or any oth­er so-called third world coun­try we’d like to pre­tend is so much less pro­gres­sive than we are in the West, misog­y­nis­tic ideals and a whole host of oth­er cross-cul­tur­al cross-soci­etal ills is as broad and diverse as the peo­ple who uphold and abide by them.

It doesn’t mat­ter the coun­try or cul­ture because peo­ple are peo­ple, and not all of us are good. And of those of us who are good, not all of us are com­plete­ly good.  Sim­ply, we live in a world of most­ly good inten­tioned peo­ple, but amongst those good peo­ple is anoth­er more insid­i­ous ele­ment that we should all be afraid of.  They are there.  We don’t know who they are but, we work with them and go to school with them and we talk to them while wait­ing in line at the reg­is­ter.

Why don’t I watch the news?

Because it makes me angry, and because it scares and sad­dens me. Watch­ing the news makes me lose faith in the world and the peo­ple in it. And, I’ll sound a lit­tle Sybil-ish here, it also gives me a tiny bit of weird hope. In our ever shrink­ing glob­al com­mu­ni­ty we are learn­ing more and more about each oth­er and as such we are slow­ly elim­i­nat­ing mis­con­cep­tions about peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent from us. We are shar­ing the best of our­selves and hope­ful­ly doing away with the worst. As long as there is an Earth with peo­ple liv­ing on her face, we will see ugli­ness and injus­tice and error, but things can be bet­ter, right? This is my hope.

This also brings me to the top­ic of my writ­ing. My major WIP, Bilqis, which will be book one of the Hin­ter­land Chron­i­cles, echoes much of my woes about the state of the world we live in, per­son­al and glob­al.

I am for­tu­nate to have had extreme­ly few open­ly racist or anti-Mus­lim expe­ri­ences in my life. I’ve had peo­ple say some incred­i­bly asi­nine things to me, but I’m not hyper­sen­si­tive and I can gen­er­al­ly deter­mine the dif­fer­ence between mal­ice and igno­rance. With that said, we all know that racism still exists and anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment is per­va­sive and in many instances hearti­ly accept­ed. This is what the Hin­ter­land Chron­i­cles address­es.

What I’ve attempt­ed to cre­ate is a world/society that is scarred by reli­gious tur­moil and racism, much like our own. Imag­ine that the gov­ern­ment, with the best of inten­tions, has tried to solve the issue of reli­gious and racial divi­sive­ness by out­law­ing the prac­tice of any faith. Imag­ine that those peo­ple who per­sist in reli­gious obser­vances are pun­ished, ostra­cized, and eject­ed from the major cities. Imag­ine that they are forced to make their lives scav­eng­ing off the land which is a vast waste­land.

What do you think would hap­pen?

I’m still work­ing on the first draft, but it is dif­fi­cult to write about issues of faith/religion with­out sound­ing as if I am preach­ing and pros­e­ly­tiz­ing, which I am not. I pray that I am suc­cess­ful.

We should absolute­ly mine infor­ma­tion from our expe­ri­ences and the world for our writ­ing.  This includes the news.  I sup­pose I’m sim­ply not strong enough to tol­er­ate it… or to say it in a more for­giv­ing way, I’m too sen­si­tive. On sec­ond thought, it isn’t an alto­geth­er bad thing is it? Aren’t most writ­ers and artists intu­itive deep think­ing indi­vid­u­als?

If they’re not… shhh. Don’t ruin the illu­sion. I kind of like it.

  • Lau­ren Amund­son

    Sovi­et Rus­sia out­lawed reli­gion in an attempt to get peo­ple to coop­er­ate across reli­gious lines. That might help your research.

    I like sci-fi/­fan­ta­sy because it allows us to talk about real issues, but by remov­ing a bit of real­i­ty, in a deep­er way than we’d nor­mal­ly be able to. We remove the cruft of pre-dis­po­si­tioned opin­ions and can more eas­i­ly tell our truths. Which sounds like what you are try­ing to do.

    Good luck with your book! It sounds very inter­est­ing!