One of the most commonly held dangerous beliefs in modern society is the idea that it’s important to have a source of news in your life, whether it be the TV, radio, newspapers or the internet. However, recent events have made it clearer than ever that filling your head with some corporate entity’s idea of what the news is, is not only unnecessary – it is actually damaging to our spiritual life.
The news is presently filled with nothing but negativity and fearmongering. Needless to say, filling one’s head with a constant stream of this is incredibly draining. But as soon as the TV goes off, silence still reigns. Outside, the birds still sing and the sun still shines. People are not dropping dead in the streets. Life goes on. Never was there a clearer indication that what we fill our heads with – whether be our thoughts, or the material we consume that fuels our thoughts – is what determines our reality.
Even during less chaotic periods, there is very little offered by mainstream news sources that contributes in any way to the betterment of our lives. No-one should feel the slightest pang of guilt for not wishing to keep abreast of all the latest car crashes, murders, political squabbles and celebrity gossip. It’s tremendously sad for the victims of such misfortunes, but it is no concern of anyone’s except those directly involved. We have no obligation to concern themselves about these matters, and there is no benefit in doing so. It is not our responsibility to take on the grief of complete strangers. Even if some compassionate instinct compels us to do so, it will have no positive effect on the victims whatsoever.
Our responsibility as humans is to look after ourselves, our friends and family and our local community – in that order. Of course, the responsibility we hold towards our family is very similar in importance to that which we hold towards ourselves, so we should never put ourselves first in a selfish way. But putting ourselves first in a responsible way to ensure our own stability helps to ensure that we can adequately fulfill our duties to our family members.
The idea that we have a duty to be informed about the misfortunes of all others everywhere on the planet is an invention of the modern globalised world, and the mass media that helped to create such a society. The world carried on just fine for millennia using word of mouth as its only news service. Anything that’s absolutely crucial for you to know will still reach you by this method even now. If nobody comes to tell you, you probably don’t need to know.
It’s even more absurd when the news reports on atrocities or misfortunes occurring in far distant countries. A small number of folks may consider it part of their life’s work to better the conditions of those living in other countries. They are to be praised for their compassionate decision, but the vast majority of people do not share this life purpose. Furthermore, such a calling requires action – simply watching foreign atrocities and misfortunes on the TV news and taking on others’ grief serves no purpose to anyone. Again, no-one should feel guilty for refusing to burden themselves with the sufferings of those to whom they have no direct responsibility. Of course we can pray for them, or direct positive energy towards them – or whatever we feel inclined to do. But then we should simply trust in a higher power and detach ourselves from the situation. We should also remember – whilst not allowing it to stifle our compassion – that people in these situations chose to incarnate here and to experience certain things, even sufferings, in order to learn particular lessons and evolve their souls.
Disconnecting from the news can be a difficult process in the beginning, if you are accustomed to keeping abreast of things. Curiosity may get the better of you and you may find yourself taking a quick peek at the headlines online, or looking at the front page of the newspaper if you see it in a shop or a cafe. But if you persist with it, the curiosity will pass. Having less noise in your mind will make it clearer and calmer, and you’ll quickly find that you’re no worse off by not filling your head with a constant stream of negativity.
Once you’ve emotionally disconnected, you may also find that you need to make some other changes to avoid being unintentionally exposed. Certain websites you’re accustomed to visit – for example, the login page on your webmail account, or the default start page on your internet browser – may display news headlines. You may be exposed to the radio on buses or in shops. You can take some steps to avoid these too, such as changing your start page or – if you really want to get serious about it – taking noise cancelling headphones with you if you’re likely to go somewhere where the news will be on. You may not wish to walk around with headphones on all the time, as this can make it difficult to be fully present in the moment, but having nature sounds or even music available to block out the news break is quite OK.
Of course, it’s difficult to avoid all exposure all the time, and we shouldn’t be too obsessive about it, nor should we be anxious if we do find ourselves exposed to the news on occasions. But if you try at a bare minimum to avoid all intentional exposure for a few weeks, you’ll wonder why on earth you ever filled your head with such drivel in the first place. The troubles of the wider world will fade away and you’ll be much more able to focus on the real world – that is, the world you live in. Yourself, your friends, your family and your community.
Yes, your external world will become smaller; but your spiritual world will become larger. Try it and see.