Stray News Bullets

Is this twenty-four-seven pandemic news cycle weighing heavy on your psyche too? There are almost too many stray bullets of information hitting me from every angle. Too much information to process and it often feels overwhelming.


Is anyone else drowning in too much negative news? It was hard enough as it was pre-pandemic just trying to stay positive and keeping my family safe. Now I’m watching a deluge of conflicting information from pundits, leaders, healthcare professionals, and a slew of armchair pandemic experts.


I hadn’t had a panic attack in a long time and then suddenly, while reading a news article the other day, and while feeling some chest pain, I went into full blown panic mode. I honestly thought I was having shortness of breath related Covid-19 symptoms. I told myself I would go to sleep that night and if the shortness of breath was present in the morning, I would call my physician. I woke up the next day and felt completely fine.


I was able to see and experience firsthand just how easy it is to let the barrage of news all around me influence my mental and physical well-being.


In addition, it seems like every time I read about the suffering of others, I internalize it. A trait I inherited from my mother. Some might say, that’s part of being empathetic, it’s a good thing. I agree to some degree, but it can also be debilitating if you let other people’s stories and pain become your own. I think we can be empathetic and not internalize the worst of other’s suffering. I think.


What’s the best approach? I have no idea. I’m a news junkie, and I’m an unrepentant book junkie, heck I’m just a read anything-I-can-get-my-hands-on junkie. I never met a book I didn’t like. That doesn’t bode well for my chances of success in managing my anxiety. A lot more meditation, prayer, and Joe Rogan podcast.


Another thing weighing heavy on my mind. The irony in all of this is that we have more information than ever before, but we can’t figure out how to entirely process it, and we have to spend a great deal of our time deciphering what is real and what is fake news. I hate the term fake news, but it was fitting.


What’s confusing is the number of journalists and comments I read in the Wall Street Journal and in the New York Times that state our President and his administration are dispensing inaccurate information. If we can’t trust them, where do we turn? There is also a growing chorus of people that disagree with advice and counsel from Dr. Anthony, Fauci, who is supposedly one of this country’s foremost experts on infectious diseases. If we can’t believe him, who do we believe?


The reality is I can’t decipher what is accurate and what is unbiased news anymore. It used to be that if you got your news from a “credible” source that was good enough because there was at least some semblance of journalistic integrity. In this age of blogs (I understand the irony as I write), everyone has a megaphone, which makes information evaluation more complicated. In addition to this when I read news being reported on social media, especially on apps like Twitter, there is no fact checking because everyone wants to get information out first, and the platform character constraints not only force a lack of context, but even worse the intention is for views and not information accuracy first.

I’m not going to stop reading the news, but I probably should cut back. Either that, or just continue to let the stray news bullets keep coming.

Gratitude In Isolation With 5 Young Kids

As I read the headlines about the Coronavirus death toll in New York and all over the world, I say a silent prayer. Language can’t describe, and others can’t comprehend the agony of loved ones left in a wake of despair and grief. So many words not said, and so many lights dimmed too soon. It is a challenging time for our relatively young species, and we are all being tested in many ways. It contrast, it is beautiful to see many people rising to the challenge as they become the heroes they never knew they were.

As I contemplate on the many stories I read, I feel a profound sense of gratitude for my young, beautiful, bright, children, and my kind and loving wife. I thought it would be difficult to be in isolation all day, every day, with five young kids, and no ability for them to leave to play with friends. It has truly been a special experience, as I’m usually gone at work for many hours, and rarely see them during the day. I get to enjoy my time with them in a way I don’t normally get to. There are many discussions had where I teach, uplift, but most importantly I listen. Surprisingly as we discuss the severity of what is happening all around us, each child, even my youngest, understands and recognizes how fortunate we are.

If we are able to live and breathe for another day, it is a blessing. If we can see the sun and the faces of those we love, it is a blessing. If we can hear the sounds of nature, and the voices of those close to us, it is a blessing. Even if we are alone, but recognize that with God, we are never alone, it is a blessing.

As tough as it is around the world right now we have much to be thankful for. When I was nineteen and serving as a missionary in Africa I lost a close friend to a senseless murder. Even in that time of pain and darkness, I still recognized there was still much to be thankful for including the time I had with my deceased friend.

In everything we go through, we can decide how we react. As Viktor Frankl taught in Man’s Search For Meaning, between stimuli and reaction there is always a space. In that space we can choose how we react. We can choose to be bitter and spiteful, or we can choose to be grateful and hopeful. In a world with enough pain, suffering and anguish for many lifetimes, I choose the latter.