The Desire to See the Good

If you have been an avid reader of this blog over the last three months, you have likely noticed there hasn’t been much here. I’ve been settling into a new job, dealing with the holidays, but st of all, I just hadn’t felt like I had that much to say.

Call it culture shock. After 17 years in news, I was in a new world, and really needed time to adjust. I still do. But I’m getting a better sense of one part of the cultural difference. It’s the difference between good and evil.

And I don’t mean that I was among the evil before, or that I am surrounded by evil now. But the reality is that the news is about evil. As the great Gerry Brooks at WVIT in Hartford pointed out repeatedly, news is about bad things happening to good people. No one watches a newscast that tells you the airplanes all landed safely today.

You can say all you want about the quality of the media today, but the premise has generally been the same. Wars, crime, corruption, all the things that people need to know about in the news (and a lot of why they watch) is inherently bad. Even the weather… When the weather is bad, people love to watch the reporters out in the storm. Think they’d do that on a cloudy day?

But suddenly, at the Boston Foundation, my job is to spend more time seeking out the good. Who are the good programs? What can people do to make a difference? Who is making our schools better, our arts stronger, our streets safer? Those are the people I’m looking for now.

And the cool part? They’re out there. They’re being written about, blogged, discussed, highlighted, and recognized. And of course, part of my job is now to get them in the news. And frankly, they shouldn’t all go there. There are a number of niche publications that focus on good stories, and they have great value. But for all that people say they want “positive news”, repeated efforts to produce a positive mass audience newscast have been doomed to commercial failure.

But if you feel like all you hear on the news is too negative – look around, in your neighborhood, or online. There are a lot of positive things happening. You just have to decide, or get a new job, to get inspired to seek them out.

Maybe that’s something I’ll be sharing more of here.


  1. rhonda says

    Ted Ann Frank once wrote I quote
    “It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical,” 15-year-old Anne Frank confided to her diary on July 15, 1944. “Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply
    can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death.”

    Three weeks after those heartbreaking words were written, the Gestapo discovered the secret annex where Anne and seven others had been hiding. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following March.

    The desire to believe, like Anne Frank, that “people are truly good at heart” is powerful. Sadly, history refutes the idea that human nature alone will make a good world. Controlling bad things may sometimes be prudent. But it is above all by controlling ourselves – by fortifying the better angels of our nature — that the struggle against evil progresses.
    The lessons of Ann frank did a 15 year old child really have the answer to improving the world around us.

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