Is the world really as scary as it seems?

If you listen to the news media for very long, you get the feeling everything is falling apart and everyone is ready to strangle each other. It can leave you with a feeling of fear and despair. You get the impression apocalypse has already come and the only thing left to do is write off the world and call it a day.

But if you unplug, take a drive across the country, and get out into nature, you get an entirely different feeling. The forests are unaffected by news hype. Mountains and valleys care little about the elections and the latest violence to hit the streets. True, what mankind does to nature affects it. But the story mankind tells itself is much scarier than the reality of a quiet trail, or a babbling brook. Just don’t take in some media before you leave. You’ll probably see a story about a man-eating cougar, a rabid bear or a bigfoot sighting.

The news media itself is suffering from downsizing and cutthroat competition. Perhaps the media loves to scare us because the typical news reporter is scared he or she will lose their job next week. Perhaps when you focus on the worse of humanity, you begin to believe your own hype. 

It is so much easier to focus on the worst of humanity. It is so much more difficult, but rewarding to balance it with the good of nature as well as the best of humanity. It is out there. You just have to be intentional and escape the 24 hour news cycle once in a while.

No Presidential Debate Here

Cartoon of a fearful boy and a man in front of a podium. The man says, "Don't worry. There's no presidential debate here. It's just the pastor's pulpit.

I’m wondering if kids who are hearing US election news may start to build up a little anxiety. People on both sides are shrill. the rhetoric has never been more emotionally charged. Manners have been trashed. It’s just a mess.

I thought of this cartoon when I thought of the reassuring words I have heard from pulpits. This month, my pastor is doing a sermon series based on the subject, “Brave.” I am just glad there are still places where you can find words of hope and encouragement.

I drew this cartoon for the October 2016, Church of God Newsletter.

Can You Stay Stupid?

Sketch of a man with a buffalo hat, Hawaiian shirt and striped pants

Over at Michael Hyatt’s blog, he gave a quote from a book entitled Do the WorkWithin the quote, this statement stuck out to me:

Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.

I have to admit, I’m not ignorant, or arrogant enough. And I’m willing to bet you aren’t either. If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time gathering information, reading blogs, and pondering what is the best way to tackle a challenge. If you’re like me, you can get bogged down in the minutia of information.

That’s one reason I love working with children. They can help me find my giddy, stupid self. When you’re around kids, do these things to get your daring, stupid self back:

  • Before you tell a child it can’t be done, ask yourself, “Why not?” Is it really that big of a deal? Sure, there are safety concerns you have to watch. Never allow a child to put themselves in danger, but there are so many ideas kids have that aren’t going to harm them or others. Take a chance! Get messy! Have some fun!
  • Allow yourself to be silly. Wear that flamboyant hat. Sing a silly song. Laugh even if you heard that joke when you were seven. It’s still funny!
  • Encourage a child no matter how outlandish their goals me be. Maybe they will be president some day. Perhaps you’re looking at the next astronaut to Mars. Encourage dreams. And dream a little yourself.

Working with kids is a great way to keep your innocent, creative self from thinking small. Encourage their dreams and you may find you can get “stupid” and work on your own.

Good Fight or Good Flight

Cartoon of a man fleeing. He thinks, "Can I fight the good fight if I'm running away?"

I hate tension. Maybe that’s why I like cartoons so much. I always loved the way humor can break tension and turn an angry person into a laughing one. More than once, I’ve had to break a serious moment with a joke. Sometimes that works. Sometimes, well, it can backfire! If someone really wants to be angry, they’ll do anything to keep their sour mood.

When tension comes, my tendency is to crack a joke, then run. But is that fighting the good fight? Once in a while, I need to stand and hold my ground. That doesn’t mean I have to be the angry one. Sorry, but I’m still going to crack a few jokes. I have to get a little laugh out of an incident, right?

Hatching an Idea

Cartoon of a chicken and an executive

Cartoon of an executive and a chicken. The chicken says, “That’s a nice idea. Let it incubate and see what hatches.”