Friday, August 31, 2012

Being Told What To Think (Worry) About

A few days ago, I received a news alert to my phone that Hurricane Isaac had claimed its first fatality.

With no disrespect to the person who lost his or her Life, I made an observation that 24,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from tainted water and my friend Nathan made this observation:

That really gives me perspective. How often are we fed what to care about?

I did some number crunching and found that the number of kids who die from tainted water varies from year to year and has ranged from 18,000 to 29,000 annually, depending on who is providing the data and the events happening in the world for any given year.

The World Health Organization’s 2004 numbers show that a child dies every 15 seconds from a water-borne illness.

That works out to over 5,700 deaths per day – the equivalent of 20 large airliners crashing daily.

Now consider these statistics as reported by the LA Times in 2011.

36,284 Americans were killed in car accidents in 2009.

37,485 Americans died as a result of inappropriate drug use (either illegal or prescription, whether wilfully or accidentally).

And one more interesting statistic.

25,000 Americans die on average each year merely by falling.

Imagine if we received a news alert every time someone was killed in a car accident (about 100 per day), died from drug usage (about 103 per day) or died from falling (about 68 per day).

The point is this.

When the media makes a big deal pointing out that one person was killed and spends hours analyzing how horrific such an event is, this is not meaningful news but for some, it touches the “fight or flight” part of the brain and creates additional worry in an already overloaded brain.

The impact on each consumer of that information will vary in intensity and impact but the influence occurs all the same.

Now while every Life is important, one has to wonder what the agenda is of any news agency that will spend hours analyzing a single death when many more die from preventable issues (such as tainted water), issues that don’t even strike the radar of the same news agencies.

This should cause us to wonder if we wish to participate in this agenda and allow opinions of what matters to be formed for us or whether we wish to be more selective in what information we consume (and demand from these agencies).

When we decide what information we wish to absorb and from whom we wish to obtain it from, we take a step towards extricating ourselves from someone else’s agenda and moving more towards managing our own purpose on our own terms.

And perhaps then, we take a step towards creating a more meaningful impact on those in need in the world instead of absorbing another negative statistic that in the grand scheme of things, is not useful, meaningful or helpful in creating a better world.

Possibly ….

…. unless you would rather see news about some poor schmo who “bought it” in spectacular or horrific fashion instead of receiving information that inspires and compels you to bring your talents, strengths and skills to bear to make a difference.

If that’s the case, you are just a cog in someone else’s wheel, serving their agenda at the expense of your own purpose and destiny.

And who wants to be that?

In service and servanthood,


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