Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Also, too

I want to add something to what I said yesterday about the media's insistence on lathering disaster news with talk of god and miracles. It doesn't have to be this way.

Some people believe in god. I understand this and have no problem with the tendency of believers who survive a tragedy to say that god saved them. It's an awful, hateful message to those who weren't "saved", but hey, people can believe whatever they want. This is America.

The problem is with the media. If they took their jobs seriously, they could perform such a vital function. (I hear they used to, but this may be just a rumor.)

What I object to is the lumping together of religion and tragedy as one. It would be so much more useful if the media reported on the different ways that people respond to tragedy. Yes, some seek an outlet in faith. And by all means, report on that. But many others find solace through helping people. It should be made clear that these are two separate things.

On the one hand, there are people who talk to an imaginary creature when things get scary. But others respond by getting things done and helping people in need. The problem is that the media doesn't differentiate between the two streams: religious and secular. They just mush it all together, drape a flag over it and say "Here you go!" It would be much more helpful to report that people respond in different ways. Yes, some turn to prayer, but others don't -- they just get out there and help.

There are people that own restaurants and, upon seeing a major tragedy, shut down their place of business and bring a grill and tables to the affected area. Others rush to a Home Depot and buy many boxes of work gloves, to hand out to people picking through the rubble. Others go to half-destroyed houses and try to help the owners pull their lives back together.

Yes, at times these efforts are undertaken because a person's religion makes them feel they should help others. But much help arrives with a simple, secular message: I want to be kind to others because it's the right thing to do. The media doesn't report that second message.

It's not just a big ice cream sundae with god sprinkled over the top. The media could make this clear but they don't. This is what drives me crazy. With a little care and forethought, they could deliver an intelligent news flow -- but that never happens.