At the Beauty and Truth Laboratory, we believe that stories about the rot are not inherently more captivating than stories about the splendor. On the contrary, given how predictable and omnipresent the former have become, they are actually quite dull. Obsessing on evil is boring. Rousing fear is a hackneyed shtick. Wallowing in despair is a bad habit. Indulging in cynicism is akin to committing a copycat crime.
Most modern storytellers go even further in their devotion to the rot, implying that breakdown is not only more interesting, but far more common than breakthrough. We reject this assumption as well. We don’t believe that entropy dominates the human experience. Even factoring in the prevailing misery in the Middle East and Africa, we doubt that the Global Bad Nasty Ratio ever exceeds 50 percent. And here in the West, where most of you reading this live, the proportion is lower.
Still, we’re willing to let the news media fill up half their pages and airwaves and bandwidths with poker-faced accounts of decline and degeneration. We can tolerate a reasonable proportion of movies and novels and TV dramas that revel in pathology. But we also demand EQUAL TIME for stories about integrity and joy and beauty and bliss and renewal and harmony and love. That’s all we ask: a mere 50 percent.
I vividly recall a shock I had in April 2000. While perusing the front page of my local daily newspaper, I found a tiny oasis of redemptive news amidst the usual accounts of reeling turmoil. It reported that inner cities all over America were undergoing a profound renaissance. From Los Angeles to New Orleans to Boston, the poorest sections of town were becoming markedly safer. New businesses were opening, capital was flowing in, neighborhood clean-ups were proliferating, drug sales were decreasing, and people were relaxing on their front porches again.
I was amazed that such an uplifting story had cracked the media’s taboo against good news. And yet its anomalous presence as an exception to the rule proved that the rule is virtually ironclad.
At this late date in the evolution of pop nihilism, the problem is not merely the media’s relentless brainwashing. We of the mass audience have become thoroughly converted to the sadomasochistic vision of the world: so much so that we’ve almost lost the power even to perceive evidence that contradicts that vision. The good news is virtually invisible.
Even those of us whose passion it is to champion the cause of beauty and truth are in the early stages of fighting our blindness. We are retraining our eyes to see the emancipating truth about the nature of reality.