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Paul Brandeis Raushenbush
Senior Religion Editor, The Huffington Post
It began innocently enough. Back in the '90s I heard a story (which may not be entirely true) about a Special Olympics running event in Seattle when one contestant stumbled and the others went back to help the fellow and they all ended up crossing the finish line together. Oh... that's nice I thought. Very nice. And so my good news porn addiction began. Stories of people doing very nice things for others have often provided a welcomed tack-on at the end of a normal negative news hour -- 'And here is a story about a puppy who was adopted after being discovered in a dumpster' -- and faith in humanity has quickly been restored and we can leave our audience on a good note. The Internet, however, has offered the perfect meth amphetamine cocktail for 'good news' and I confess that I can't get enough. While puppies and outcaste teens still get a lot of play, for me the most addictive of the good news stories involve returning soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You know the ones. A local news team arranges to surprise the kid on the basketball court, in the football field, or under the tree at Christmas with their returning mom or dad in uniform. The kid, surprised and heartbreakingly relieved, bursts into tears.
as well we should. engagement or sacrifice involved. recently had a very funny riff in his show Live From The Beacon Theater about how. and when we are done. upon seeing a soldier board the plane. We all cheered. and the families of those who never came back at all. bullied teens and returning solders after the orgasm of the televised love fest calms? Louis C.K. I love them. Good news is presented for our enjoyment. we can move on without any thought for those whose lives we just consumed.it also involves sharing. good news porn can be like sexual porn in that there is no real commitment. How can I help change the lives of these veterans in a meaningful way? In my search for help I turned to HuffPost Good News and Impact Executive Editor Jessica Prois.'I do not ever get tired of seeing those stories' intoned a TV announcer after one recent military reunion video. we all do -. and I hope we are. and considered the hardships he had gone through. Finkel talks about how post-traumatic stress disorder affects 20 to 30 percent of the two million Americans who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.but to what effect? What do we do with these stories of abused animals. But what about today? How does Sergeant Remsburg's story change the way we live our lives? Or the way we consider wars in the first place? What about our commitment to vets after they return from service? Had every member of that chamber clapping so loudly for Remsburg done everything they could to give him the health care and job training he needs to succeed in his life after service? In his book Thank You For Your Service about returning veterans. Everybody in the audience. . Reading these positive stories can be selfish but sharing stories of good works is spreading joy to others. So. In the end. President Obama invited Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg to sit next to the First Lady and proceeded to tell his story about how he had been injured in his 10th tour of duty and his long road to recovery. In the end. This is not to mention others who come back with physical wounds. I never get tired of them either. Pastor Paul. but he self-mockingly proclaims: "I was proud of myself for having thought of it!" This may get to the core of what is wrong with good news porn. honored and loved him in that moment -. Mr. and all of us at home felt tears as we saw this fine young man. we are normalizing the narrative that people are truly good. you could look at it as evangelizing :). She wrote me this very helpful email: Good news porn doesn't just involve consumption -. And I know exactly what he means. he thought to himself that he might give his first class seat to him. And whether we aim to. he never does. I thought of this last night while watching the State of the Union address.
Good news is actually really good. give money to a nonprofit through our donation widget or personally write to us about how to help a child with cancer. Hallelujah! Good news without the porn! Here's one idea: Maybe we should self impose a tax on good news porn. We aim to use a person to put a face on these issues. but whenever we can. not just assume that watching them is somehow an accomplishment in itself. . For every puppy story. you get the idea. we don't do good news vet porn. We've seen readers set up payment plans for a working poor family who needs help. Tech enables both the spread of the story and the process of helping in new and effective ways. and faith in humanity has always got to be reinforced. For every bullied teen or differently abled youngster 'included in the football team story. We don't perpetuate the idea of quick fixes like puppies and fly fishing being a panacea for vet issues like mental health.. We can't measure that with every story. employment and homelessness.And once people are moved by these stories. because we are journalists. we also remember we are writing about real people and are careful not to exploit them. well. Working against the good news porn concept. they are moved to want to make a difference. of course. we provide ways to help. But we make choices -. but it should inspire us to action in our own lives. For every 'soldier return story' we watch.' we should volunteer at the local Special Olympics or go to the school board to advocate for better protection for bullied students. we should give to an organization that helps returning veterans and make sure our politicians are advocating for fully funding and improving care for veterans..for example.