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War on Pessimism

Somber editorials, patriotic speeches and touching ads: All will lament this week a dastardly act five years ago on U.S. soil. Talking heads will talk and flags will wave. Prescription after prescription will be offered to a patient who’s not sick, but slightly depressed. What this country needs is a dose of optimism. And the media, particularly through its use of the Internet, is not helping one bit.

War has always been part of this country’s fabric. We’re familiar with the wars that defined this nation – the War of Independence and the Civil War. Then there were some, like the Spanish American War, that won territories far and wide. The wars in the 20th century underscored America’s place in the new order: the two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf. We’re up to 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq for this decade’s tally. More ideological battles loom large, replacing last century’s communism with this one’s religious fanaticism. So war is nothing new to this nation. What is new is the way it’s reported and impacting the psyche of the American.

Now, no one’s saying don’t report bad news. News must be relayed and truth must be out. Events have a life of their own, beyond the control of media and citizen. Evil must be overcome, by reason or by stick. But there needs to be some balance in this relay of information.

Where was it written that bad news is the only news worth reporting on the front page? What about the many sporting, business, social and spiritual successes each day around this country? What about the lead in e-commerce, technology, entertainment, music, media, space exploration, retailing and the arts? What about the many entrepreneurial achievements reflecting the can-do, will-do attitude? What about the enviable standard of living – maintained for the past few decades in the face of war, recession and deficits?

Yes, this nation has its flaws. Which nation doesn’t? The only thing is, its citizens hold themselves to a higher standard, which is perfectly fine. The media, however, want perfection. It’s time journalists do some navel-gazing. Inasmuch as they hold a mirror to the nation, they should also shine the beacon. This beating down of the consumer – steady drip of depressing online and TV news by the day, by the hour, by the minute – has repercussions that impact the health and wealth of this nation.

The United States got to where it is because of its resilience, its willingness to stand up to orthodoxy and its respect for individual idea as much as the societal. Most important of all is the nation’s remarkable willingness to absorb risks and take setbacks in stride. This is its DNA. Don’t let the media whine overwhelm the deserving applause.

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