Where Has All The Good News Gone?


Occasionally, something I write gets picked up on another of the “social media” outlets, and as with this blog, the responses I get are truly appreciated and provide me with insight into others’ points of view.  After my essay about the tragedy of Newtown, CT last Friday night, one reader responded:

“ I wonder why we don’t have as many joyous moments to recall as tragic moments. The tragic moments can bring us together and help us make changes to our society, I hope. The greatest public joy I recall was the lunar landing, which only goes to remind me how far we’ve strayed from what we once were.”

So this got me thinking:  Was the last time our country truly celebrated an event in a universal unbridled display of happiness July 20, 1969, the day the Apollo 11 mission succeeded and the Eagle landed on the moon?  Everyone alive on that day remembers Neil Armstrong’s words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  But does anyone remember the inscription on the plaque that was set down on the lunar surface that day:  Here Men From the Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 AD.  We Came In Peace for All Mankind.

There were many episodes of national optimism, heroism, pride and discovery in the twentieth century.  The Wright brothers took flight, Hitler was defeated, the polio vaccine was discovered, man walked on the moon, the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. But in the twenty first century we seem to have fallen on some lean times.  Can we truly say that the day Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed a day of national joy?  Or was it more accurately a day of closure, revenge and remembrance of sorrow?  My friend Dr. Emily Gibson, a family practitioner wrote yesterday in her blog “Barnstorming”—“There is an epidemic of hopelessness among our society’s young people that I’ve never before seen to this extent in my thirty years of clinical work. To them, their debts seem too great, their reserves too limited, their foundations too shaky, their hope nonexistent, their future too dim. They cannot ride the waves without feeling they are drowning. So they look for any way out.” (http://briarcroft.wordpress.com)

Perhaps we have become a nation so ideologically divided by race and culture and money that we would not recognize a cause for national celebration if it was staring us in the face.  Every day I see in my practice individual acts of kindness and bravery, and I see cancer patients with that indomitable human spirit overcoming the most desperate of odds.  These individual triumphs inspire me to live my own life with optimism, since there is no reward in doing otherwise. But one day soon, I would like to wake up to news of a nationwide—no—a worldwide celebration.  To my children, and all of the pessimists of their generation, I say “Make it so.”

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson


  1. Here’s my 2 cents….from all the tragedy we have endured over the last few years (and seeming monthly lately) it has brought cultures, religions, traditions, and values closer. It has allowed us to move forward and heal ‘together’, however sad that it takes moments like this to give us the catalyst to move in unity. Like you, my patients have defined my life, and allowed me to live each day as I am dying. I wish we as a community would celebrate every day, honor every day, and praise those around us every day. Not in moments of tragedy or funerals. Ok, maybe that was 5 cents..xx

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