Much of the focus of today's journalism is on stories of conflict,
violence, death, failure or disaster. In a talk delivered at Cardiff
University, UK, noted British journalist Martyn Lewis stressed
that the media need to change their vision and consider positive
stories as worthy of analysis and reporting as negative ones:
The main criteria for commissioning and including stories should
be the extent to which those stories shape and change - or have
the potential to shape and change - the country or the world
in which they [journalists] live. They are criteria, which will
not only allow them to expose the injustices and the tragedies
in the world, but also to give proper weight to the successes
and triumphs. They need to hold up a fairer image of the world
in which explaining and analyzing mankind's achievements should
be just as important as chronicling and investigating its failures.
Too often they leave an inaccurate, negative impression of
a person, place or organization in the minds of readers and
viewers because they have not regarded it as newsworthy to report
developments or changes of a positive nature that followed.
When there is a disaster, there are people trying to recover
from it. Where things go wrong, there are people trying to put
them right, and trying to make sure they don't happen again.
Too often they choose the negative route….
One journalist was heard to say: "you can photograph violence,
but you can't photograph peace." And yet surely staying to chronicle
the details of the attempts by affected communities to achieve
permanent peace is just as great a journalistic challenge as
showing the world the bodies under bloodstained sheets….We need
to give people a vision of a better future. If we have not such
belief, we should quit journalism.
However, things seem to be moving in the right direction. More
and more audience research around the world is increasingly pointing
the media towards a more balanced news agenda. In some countries,
there is growing realization that reporters are "obliged to raise,
not lower, people's sights." It would help journalism as a whole
if editors, proprietors and reporters mandate and follow some
reasonable changes, and view stories in a different light. ---
As the pace or our lives gets faster and faster, we complain
more and more about the paucity of time. An article by B. K. Asha
(Purity, April 2002) examines where today's "instant culture"
is leading us:
Today human beings are in a desperate hurry to beat time. They
want to do everything instantly, be it cooking, cleaning, eating,
working, in fact, every conceivable activity that could be finished
as quickly as possible. In this jet age, speed is efficiency,
so we have e-mail, e-commerce, e-shopping, supersonic jets…fast
foods, instant photography, instant therapies and a plethora
of services that thrive on this craze for instant culture.
But what are we running into? In the race for doing everything
faster, we are missing out on what time has to offer. Fast eating,
fast working and rushing everything every time has made us insensitive
and irreverent to life itself….Our obsession with speed is inherently
There are many repercussions of this instant culture on the
human scale. Today, kids do not know the innocence of growing
up. Untimely over-exposure to information has stunted their
emotional and creative growth.
The worst fallout of this speed age is that we have lost our
patience. We want quick results for everything and if things
do not happen as fast as we want them to then we become impatient,
angry and frustrated. Our drive for sensual gratification makes
us look for variety rather than durability. We get fed up with
everything too quickly. So much so that we even treat human
beings as disposables. Today people do not want to live long
because they know the younger generation would have no time
to spare for them.
Our impatience sours relationships with others. Hence we have
so many broken marriage, split families, apathy towards older
generation, etc. Worse still, we have forgotten to be ourselves….
When we forget to give respect to time, time gives us warning
signals. At present, time is sending its message loud and clear,
and that is, to understand the flow of time, to be natural,
to respect the laws of nature both outer and inner. When we
do that, we will experience joy in every change that time brings.
Every new scientific development today leads in one way or another
to saving time, to reducing the hours of work. But where will
time saved without knowledge of how to use it wisely lead us?
It all boils down to what we want out of life and whether it will
satisfy the needs of the inner man and bring real happiness. Leisure
has a place in the pattern of life, not as something to be wasted
and forgotten, but as something that awakens us to the true joy
of living. This can only be if our activities are directed towards
and end and there is an aim in life which is beyond mere social
aspirations, or material or even intellectual enjoyment.
What we need in our age is education for leisure, so as to enable
the rising generation to cope positively with the problem
of spare time. It implies giving them something worth living for,
something enduring that they can cherish throughout life, something
that will reveal to them the true meaning and purpose of life
and bring real happiness.
The prehistoric cave paintings of Chauvet in southeastern France
show the work of deft hands: Hundreds of animals appear in lifelike
poses-standing, stalking, running, or roaming in packs-on surfaces
specially scraped to make the sketches stand out. Many archaeologists
assumed that such sophistication required thousands of years of
cultural development and artistic experimentation. Yet a new,
improved dating analysis suggests that the Chauvet paintings were
made between 32,000 and 29,000 years ago, placing them among the
most ancient artworks known. (Discover, February 2002)
The results confirm that the Chauvet cave paintings are 10,000
to 15,000 years older than those at Lascaux, even though the art
in the two locations is similarly fine. The finding implies that
prehistoric art did not evolve steadily from crude beginnings
to complex representations, as was previously thought, but "in
spurts, with lots of apogees and lots of declines," says archaeologist
Jean Clottes, who is in charge of the research at Chauvet.
It is now believed that there may be earlier cycles of artistic
development as yet unknown. "I would be very surprised if much
older art was not discovered in the next few years, not only in
Europe but mostly in Asia, Australia, and Africa," says Clottes.
Further excavations in different parts of the world will indeed
uncover evidences of much older art. Even the Chauvet cave findings,
rock art specialists admit, "upset all our thinking about how
style evolved. We can no longer argue that the development of
art was linear because we see now that it was not just a matter
of a crude sort of art first and then a slow improvement."
In fact, artistic skill can be traced back to the beginning of
human history. Early man was not left unaided but had Divine Instructors
who taught him all the arts and sciences; and their pupils handed
their knowledge from one generation to another.
The artistic skill displayed by the old cave-men renders the
hypothesis which regards them as approximations to the "pithecanthropus
alalus"- that very mythical Haeckelian monster- an absurdity
requiring no Huxley or Schmidt to expose it. We see in their
skill in engraving a gleam of Atlantean culture atavistically
reappearing. (The Secret Doctrine, II, 741 fn.)
For nature-lovers, and for those who know of the intimate relationship
between man and nature, the following facts and findings reported
in Sanctuary Asia will be a cause for concern.
Probably the most comprehensive survey of biodiversity ever
conducted in the United States, by the Nature Conservancy, has
documented more than 200,000 species of plants and animals, twice
the previous estimate. Nearly one third of these species are threatened.
Loss of wild habitats and invasion of exotic species are the leading
causes of species decline. The inventory, based on data gathered
over the last 25 years by the Conservancy's Natural Heritage Network,
suggests that the U.S. contains about 10 per cent of the known
species on earth and ranks close to the top among nations in its
variety of mammals, freshwater fishes, salamanders, mussels, snails,
crayfish and needle-leafed evergreen trees such as pines. However,
the U.S. ranking of being among the highest biodiversity nations
could be deceptive, simply because many countries in the Third
World have not been sufficiently studied. Yet the Nature Conservancy's
survey gives an inkling of the threat to the natural world.
Another report, outlining research by Anne Weil, a research associate
with Duke University, and James Kirchner, a scientist at the University
of California-Berkeley, estimates that the earth will need 10
million years to recover its species diversity following mass
extinctions. The best scientific estimates are that, in the absence
of policy changes, half of the planet's species will be lost in
the next 50 to 100 years. The study underlines the fact that not
only will extinctions leave an impoverished and barren planet
for future generations, but that the human race itself will be
extinct long before any of the vanished species make a comeback.
The team found that the time lag between extinction and revival
of biodiversity was much longer than previously believed, and
was also remarkably consistent. Kirchner said that while the findings
are a cause for concern, they do not mean that the earth's species
are doomed. "Whether mass extinction happens or not depends on
us. We can choose not to let it happen."
Still another report, that on global climate change, by the Pew
Centre, has warned that we need to be prepared for a rise in sea
levels of over 50cm., resulting in the submergence of approximately
20,000 sq.km. of land by the year 2100. According to the report's
co-author Gary Yohe, even if temperatures were stabilized immediately,
sea level rise would still continue into the next century, due
to the momentum gathered by the ocean's expansion.
According to Bird Life International, one in eight of
the world's birds-which translates into 1,200 species-face extinction
in the next 100 years. Seventy four bird species have become extinct
since 1800, and 35 species have vanished for ever in the last
A scary picture indeed! Yet humans are so obsessed with a sense
of their superiority over nature that only a major catastrophe
will open their eyes.
A recently study on "Media Violence and Its Impact on Children,"
conducted by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in Delhi,
with the support of Unicef, Unesco and the Ford Foundation, should
be an eye-opener for parents who encourage or connive at their
children watching adult TV programmes. The pioneering survey covered
1,350 kids in the age group of six to fourteen years from various
socio-economic groups in five cities-Lucknow, Kolkata, Delhi,
Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. The Times of India reports:
If you think children are hooked to cartoons, action flicks
and adventure series you are behind the times. Soap operas are
what they are watching-adult family dramas, in particular. They
are also keen on horror and crime shows, and this fascination
has intensified dramatically since September 11…
Parents might consider family serials "safe" for their kids,
with many mothers encouraging their children to watch these
alongside their elders. However, such programmes, especially
the new crop of daily soaps, are injurious to the psychological
health of children, warns the study. CFAR conducted a content
analysis of 22 episodes across prime-time television, comprising
11 family dramas, and found that more than 55 per cent of their
substance was violence. "Conflict, emotional upheaval, violence,
death and uncertainly come packaged as a family drama," says
the study, adding that this can only "impair impressionable
"Family soaps are not necessarily happy programmes or merely
a celebration of the family, although they are promote that
way," notes Akhila Sivadas, executive director of CFAR….Their
target audience is the adult viewer, hence the topics deal with
adult life and its complexities. Domestic discord, adultery
and bigamy are common themes. Unfortunately, though, the serials
end up being watched by vast numbers of children too. And given
that the kids lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to
understand what's really going on, they turn precocious and
start acquiring prejudices and preconditioned ideas about relationships….
The researchers were also alarmed by the children's passion
for crime and horror shows….However, many confessed that they
got bad dreams after watching such shows.
IF we speak of matter as essentially inanimate or inert,
we establish the need for a graded hierarchy of beings: Stones
have no experience whatsoever; bacteria have a minimal degree
of life; plants have a bit more life, with a rudimentary degree
of sensitivity; "lower" animals are more sentient, yet still
stuck in their instincts; "higher" animals are more aware;
humans alone are really awake and intelligent. In this manner
we continually isolate human awareness above, and apart from,
the sensuous world. If, however, we view matter as animate
(or self-organizing) from the get go, then hierarchies vanish
and we are left with a diversely differentiated field of animate
beings, each of which has its gifts relative to the others.
And we find ourselves not above this living web, but in the
very midst of it, our own sentience part and parcel of the