Our nature’s better angels
It is understandable that newsmen look for sensational stories since these are what sell newspapers and make the names of correspondents. ‘Small earthquake – nobody injured‘ is not likely to ignite the public interest. Nor is a finely crafted account of a project well planned and perfectly executed. Violence, disaster, murder, scandal, failure, fraud and the whole world and in particular our own dear land going to hell in a hand-basket are what will capture the readers‘ attention – not good deeds, success, goodwill and cooperation, honest endeavours, progress, improvements and worthy goals indentified and achieved, lives actually getting better in so many ways. Boring stuff that, let’s hear about the horrors.
I can be as guilty as anyone of the misconception that what is terribly wrong completely outweighs what is going quite sweetly right. A recent column of mine, Blood Lust, attracted criticism as descending too deeply into the darkest depths of man’s inhumanity to man, quite forgetting our nature’s better angels. Well, yes, I must admit the mistake.
I should know better. Samuel Johnson, the great 18th century English man of letters, is one of the shrewdest teachers on the human condition and he has the best perspective. “It is by studying little things,” he wrote, “that we attain the great art of having as much happiness as possible.” And he went on to write: “The main of …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.