My Dad was generally a man of few words, but one of his favorite expressions was “No News is Good News”. This is usually taken to mean that if you don’t hear from somebody or about something, then you can assume all is okay, because if something was wrong you’d hear about it. The absence of information is a kind of affirmation of inner strength and grounded-ness, and a quiet reassurance to carry on, no matter what. That was my Dad.
I was thinking about “No News is Good News” today, because it has been 8 days now since I stopped reading, watching or hearing the news out in the world, especially the political news. Yes, as soon as the election results were confirmed, I turned off the news. I’ve never done that before. As my wife Helen can attest, I’ve been a news junkie, checking the New York Times online frequently throughout the day, or listening to NPR or watching CNN, all the time. Through wars, murders, and other disasters, even 9/11, no matter what, I never turned off the news.
But now I have. And it feels great! It was actually easy, and now the craving is gone to where I feel like I could go on this way for many weeks or longer. Please understand, it’s not that I’m so upset and despondent about the election that I don’t care anymore. In fact, I care more than ever, as it is now so crystal clear that this dramatic change in the mentality and norms of how we treat each other and how we are governed will have a huge impact on all of us. What’s happened is a powerful call to arms to get involved, and to get more knowledgeable, not less.
Yet I need a break – not break as in escape or avoidance, but rather a letting go of the mindless attachment to mass media, to a frightfully limited perspective (however “progressive”), to the addictive adrenaline of crazy political drama, to the bombardment of information spun this way and that by talking heads, to soap opera-like tragedy and farce – to where I couldn’t hear my thoughts or feel my heart or soul in any of this. As long as the drama seemed to be headed to a happy ending I was hooked, but when it ended differently, the absurdity and utter brutality of all of it got revealed. My inner hard drive crashed, and my soul said “ENOUGH!”
Again, this time of no news is not an escape but rather a deepening of caring and connection and healing with myself and those around me. Sooner rather than later, I will turn the news back on. But for the time being, it is a precious opportunity to listen more intently and compassionately, to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to discern more wisely what is truly going on between us, beyond the noisy ups and downs of daily news. “No News” these days doesn’t mean “Good News” in the traditional sense, certainly not from the nasty or unnerving snippets I’ve been hearing from others. The news is not at all good, but if its absence in my life now enables me to recharge my batteries and to be more fully present in the world, and if it brings me deeper understanding and that “quiet reassurance to carry on”, then perhaps that is the real Good News, and a true blessing indeed. Thank you, Dad!