As you grow up, I will encourage you to keep track of current events in the world, and teach you how to think about them critically and form your own opinions. It will be a proud day for me when you choose to disagree with my opinions because your reason leads you to different conclusions. Your school will want you to keep up on and occasionally report on the news, too.
When you start paying attention to the world you will start to hear stories of tyranny, war, and crime everywhere. The world can look very dark.
It is absolutely important to keep perspective on how real and immediate the stories you hear really are. The fact is that scary, tragic, and violent stories get people’s attention. Newspapers, teleivison news, and newsblogs all want as much attention as they can get. They get paid every time someone looks at the advertisements that surround their stories. That means they will look for every terrible story they can. If it happens all the way across the world, even if it will never affect you, they will still report on it because it will keep people glued to their screen or buying newspaperes. In the journalism industry they like to say “if it bleeds, it leads.”
In fact, I challenge you to watch a TV newscast some day, and watch how they tease people with promises about frightening, attention-grabbing stories right before they start playing commercials so that people will not change the channel.
And remember as well that ideologies have a vested interest in making people feel like victims, too. Ideologues love to paint the world as a terrible place so that they can then claim that they have all of the solutions. They are perfectly happy to exaggerate or even lie to make the world seem darker than it is. Right now, for example, there are huge battles being waged on University campuses about what gender feminists claim is an epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes on campus. They claim that 1 in 5 women will be assaulted on campus, but if that were really true, that would mean that there is more rape going on at Universities that in war-torn violent countries like Uganda – or even in may prisons! In 1985 a woman named Mary Koss conducted a study about women who experienced sexual assault by the time they reached the age to graduate from college – she designed the study very badly, ignored much of her own data, and lied about her results to come up with the 1 in 5 number. Then others reported and exaggerated it until instead of 1 in 5 women experiencing some kind of unwanted sexual contact by age 21 it became “1 in 5 women on college campuses will be raped!”
Why tell such a terrible, fear-inducing lie? Because it pays! Governments across the Western world have hired many more gender studies professors, opened big crisis centres, hired many gender studies students to work them part time, and throw a lot more money and jobs at people to research the cause for an “epidemic” that never really existed. And in the process they get more and more people, outraged about the horrors they have been deceived into believing are happening, to decide that this is why they “need feminism” and become feminists, or donate to feminist causes themselves.
The same is true of many other scares. Christians claim their religious rights are under attack. Muslims claim that evil Jewish conspirators are sabotaging their governments. Anti-video game lobbyists claim video games turn people into violent psychopaths. Anti-rap advocates report on every shooting where a black man kills another black man as if the music was to blame. And on and on it goes. Everyone claiming that the world is a dark and terrible place ful of rape, robbery, and violence.
The reality is that there are places in the worlds where life can be hard and dark. Countries torn by war or ruled over by tyrants. And there are terrible crimes committed even in safe, peaceful countries like Canada. But those crimes are rare, and if you are careful and wise, you may never have to see them first-hand.
The world is becoming a better place. Every form of violent crime is slowly vanishing from the Western World. As we trade more, and create freer markets, even the poorest countries in the world are becoming richer and safer. As the Internet spreads to every corner of the world, people are capable of doing business, learning, and discovering new ideas from anywhere – ignorance is becoming a choice rather than a condition. Wars are becoming less bloody as our technology improves. We have done away with starvation and many deadly diseases that once were common.
The world is not as dark as it seems, and it is getting brighter. But there are people who want you to be scared. They profit from fear-mongering and spinning. When you see a scary story in the news, ask yourself a powerful question: Que bono? Who profits from your fear?
Be realistic: know that terrible things happen, but also know that this doesn’t make the world a terrible place.