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I heard something on the morning new today that made me pause: the reporter was discussing the falling gas prices and how the lowered expense would bleed over to natural gas and heating oil this winter and said, “So how much will YOU save this winter?”

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t pay much attention to something like this, except that it is highly unusual these days. You might ask me what’s so atypical and my observation is this: no matter where I turn these days (and in the last several months), I hear bad news on the TV. And I don’t just mean stories of homes burning or crimes being committed, but of *seriously* bad things. Potentials for more war, outrageous fuel prices, terrible hurricanes, a disastrous El Nino, child predators, and so-called “super volcanic eruptions.” Things that I can have very little (or no) control over.

Which makes me wonder: what am I supposed to DO with all this bad news? Seriously—I can control my actions alone. I cannot control what my husband does, and I cannot even control the actions of my 4 yr old son (although I’d like to!). I can make wise decisions such as driving defensively, wearing my seatbelt, and choosing not to smoke. I can be proactive about my health, taking supplements that aide me and seeing my doctor regularly. But I cannot do a darned thing about fuel prices, potential war, expected hurricanes, El Nino, the prevalence of child predators online, or ‘super volcanic eruptions.’

I can only cope with what happens and make my life adjust to the circumstances. Some people may try to insulate themselves from all negative outside influences by living in a cave or isolating themselves in the mountains somewhere and growing, grinding, and eating their own meat, wheat, and produce. Generally, these people are viewed as odd or strange, and one of the unfortunate aspects of this lifestyle is that while you may insulate yourself from the negative that the outside world has to offer, you also insulate and isolate yourself from the positive elements, too.

The only thing that makes sense to my sometimes-feeble mind is that the news networks are trying to scare me. They must be trying to make me feel helpless—why else would they continually bring me these horrible stories? Okay–I admit as a parent, I want to protect my kids from horrible predators online. But telling me about how prevalent it is doesn’t help me protect them—it is voyeuristic and capitalizing on some salacious details of men who lack moral compunction to abstain from having sex with under-aged kids. While information about how predators work is useful, it doesn’t protect my kids. *I* do that by monitoring their online usage and instilling values in my family and kids that encourage openness, honesty, and transparency. If I create this culture, the chances that a predator (online or in real life) will get his hooks in to my kids are much slimmer than otherwise.

Some will say that the networks and news outlets are simply after ratings, and in the frenzy for the ratings-grab, they will air the most hair-raising stories in order to appeal to the basest of our human nature: believing the most negative aspects of any given situation. This may be true at one level, but I think there’s more than that at stake: I think it’s a calculated political move on the part of those who try to shape the culture and society.

Follow me here, if you will: those who decide which stories will have the most pull and determine what will show have a political leaning that is vastly different from mine. To these people, Government is the end-all and if we were dependent upon Government that scripted out our every movement, that’d be just fine. Additionally, if we are afraid, we’re more apt to trust Government to protect us, especially if we have no faith in a God Who loves us and cares for us. If they can make us fearful enough to abandon our faith (however weak or strong it may be) and trust Government in which they have a large influence, they could peddle whatever they wanted to us and turn our society in to the utopia they think it might be. (At least, it would be if it weren’t for those of us who have a faith and critically-thinking minds.)

Does that sound a bit too much like a conspiracy theory straight from Oliver Stone’s mind and production company? Or does it smack of Orwellian-speak from 1984? I don’t mean it to be at all, but I really do think that there’s something more than just a ratings-grab going on here.

So what do you do with all this “Must Scare TV”? If you can’t control what they’re reporting and you’re not prone to panic-attacks, then maybe you don’t mind watching it. Me? I’m not going to pay attention to it. There are too many books to read, jazz musicians that I have yet to discover, and patterns to knit. And then of course, there’s some good old fashioned family-time that can fill my evenings. I’m not going to choose fear—I’m going to control what I can and trust in One Who can control what I can’t, and live my life to its fullest.

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