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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Press The OFF Button Please!

Press The OFF Button Please!

In today's information age, we are inundated with negative news churned out by TV channels day and night. It is rare to see something on the television news that talks about a good event; it happens, but it is rare. Instead, we see images of war-torn countries, people fighting, political corruption, arrests, wrecks, murder and the like. On any given day, one can open the newspaper or a news channel and see that some guy murdered his wife, a mother is lacking food in an urban ghetto or a study appears saying AIDS infection rates are skyrocketing. All their statistics are satanic, all prophecies pronounce Doomsday approaching. Nothing works in this world, even the marriages end in divorce or dowry-deaths and all love stories end with “... and they lived miserably thereafter till suicide”.

Negative news is seen having a significant influence on viewers and has been attributed with the ability to create a gloomy outlook. People have a perception that the world is going down the drain, but it's not as bad as it may seem. This saturation of the news with violence and depressing stories is a mischaracterization of the world that is poisoning the minds of our children. They need to learn that for every bad and disheartening story, there are truly uplifting ones that go ignored every day. I'm sure we do not want to pass a completely violent outlook of the world to our children. By continuing to present the world as a wholly dark and scary place, we are raising children in a one-sided view of the world. This is a tremendous disservice to them.

Why all the negativity in the news? It is interesting to note that one of the guidelines for so-called successful-news-reporting states:

"Negativity: Bad news is good news. Bad news has many of the other (guideline) characteristics as well - it may be unexpected, unambiguous, consonant with our general expectations about the world, it may be 'big', e.g. a major catastrophe etc. So, it is no real secret that the big news channels prefer to push negative or bad news stories...because, for some reason, it sells better!”

The Romanian Senate unanimously voted a law requiring the media to provide their audiences with minimum 50 per cent positive news. The creators of the bill believe the law will help fight the harms of negative news and its effects on people's life. We cannot wait for the governments in the rest of the world to be as sensitive and follow suit. Nor do we have to just sit back and soak in the negativity! We can make the decision to press the OFF button on the remote, or switch to another channel where the news is not being aired...or do something else entirely! That small first step of choosing to shut out the negativity can be the beginning of a journey into a much more blissful existence, where the balance of negatives and positives are in harmony, and where the best things in life can be appreciated and favored and promoted!

Sometimes, my wife and I choose to shut out the negativity. Instead of having our lunch in front of the news blare, we will eat on our front lawn-porch, where we can enjoy watching the hummingbirds come and go at the plants we have in the lawn. We watch in amazement, as they zig and zag...up, down, over and under, all the while chirping their little giggles. When they land on the flowers, their true size, daintiness and fragility become apparent, as they bob up and down at the flowers. Then, they're gone in a flash! It is so richly rewarding to recognize that they are capable of such things because of the love of our Creator.

Of course, there are so many other more positive and healthier things we could be choosing instead of the negative news reports. It is certain that we all have our own best other-choices. When we truly take time to figure out for ourselves, walk out on the street, walk around and look with open eyes and open mind, we find true miracles are all around us, and they are to reassure us that the same love which is so evident in the natural world is at work on our behalf as well. Not to speak of our country where family pride comes first in our priorities, even in the West, old family bonds are back. The youth who have been experimenting with 'live-in' arrangement are overwhelmingly outnumbered by couples with commitment to make married life a lifelong experience in sharing love and affection. And the family norm is slowly returning to 'extended family' formed of couples living together with parents. Indeed, all old values are still alive, only the news media is blind to their existence.


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