In times of struggle and conflict, it is natural for us to look outside of ourselves for support or for hope. Many people find the support they require in their faiths: prayer, ceremony & acknowledgement that we are part of something bigger. Some find it in their friends and family. Some look for it, but can’t see another way.
Yesterday on the news, a ten second clip on the radio caused me to stop what I was doing and look beyond myself for the support I needed.
The ten second clip was part of a news break at the top of the hour. The commentator was reading headlines in a clear and professional voice – when something struck me over the head as I heard the words spoken across those radio waves. The words were delivered in the same friendly and professional tone as the rest of the news break – but what they said was shocking, horrifying and heart breaking.
A six year old girl from the Paul First Nation just outside of Edmonton was in Critical condition after being sexually assaulted and left in the snow
I found it shocking that the news commentator would deliver the info in such a cold and detached way. Then I remember that ‘in media’ its important to report only ‘the facts’ and not emotion. I volunteer once a week on a radio station where I will occasionally read out news. One thing I know i CANNOT do, is read out horrifying information without at least an expression of emotion about how it affects myself or my listeners. Perhaps this is the freedom of community radio versus mainstream? Either way, this is a human quality I hope to hold on to the more I wade into this world of mass communication, this world of media. Sometimes, I believe, it IS appropriate for those on the news to demonstrate their innate human qualities to their audiences; there is an element of vicarious trauma for reporters and videographers who must report about the horrific realities of the world in which we live and I am often concerned for their emotional/spiritual well-being. I am also reminded that it is often on TV Screens and radio waves where stereotypes are born and where they fester, constantly reinforcing the negative and belittling the good as an anomoly or a one off. Where in TV or radio land can a six year old indigenous child go to learn about the good things their peers are doing? Where can indigenous communities and inner city communities and communities living in poverty go to find the other more positive sides of their stories? There is hope in my neighbourhood – lots of strong and beautiful little girls who are learning to use their voice, think critically and yes, even defend themselves. There are groups of young native men my age who are working as hard as they can to undo the trauma that is still informing their perspectives from what they are forced to see/hear about their violent counterparts.
The 20 year old boy who is a good father, a diligent student and someone healing from the abuses he suffered is gonna have a hard time overcoming all the darkness they see about who they are ‘supposed to be’ according to tv. The media is gonna have a real hard time changing how they focus their attention and talk.
The way news is reported must change – we must begin to see the good more than we see the bad. I’m not saying ignore dangers and predators on our streets, but I am saying we should celebrate the helpers and we should celebrate those who are committed to walking in a good way on their own healing journeys more than we do today. I’m starting by reaching outside of myself and asking for you to think about this shared challenge we carry. I’m taking it one step further by asking you to pray with me. For those who don’t know that there is a movement afoot of indigenous men reclaiming their roles as protectors and helpers and storytellers, consider this your advance notice.
We’re on our way to keep our women and children safe. But we need our families with us as we heal, we need the media to continue to amplify the good and of course, we need to pray. Your example is your light.