Let’s Each Fight Negativism

By Shlomo Maital   

     David Brooks, New York Times columnist, has drawn our attention to “a rising tide of global sadness.”  And I think we can each do something about it.

     Take Taylor Swift, songwriter and singer whose hand is on the pulse of her millions of followers.  Her newest album Midnight, Brooks notes, is not about love, but about “anxiety, restlessness, exhaustion and anger.”   A group of researchers analyzed 150,000 pog songs between 1965 and 2015, and found that the number of times the word ‘hate’ appears, lately, has risen sharply.

    And a study, Brooks says,  of 23 million headlines between 2000 and 2019 by 47 different US news outlets found they have grown significantly more negative, featuring anger, fear, disgust, sadness. 

    And between 1990 and 2019, the share of Americans who put themselves in the lowest happiness category rose by more than 50% — before COVID.

    Brooks notes this is true not only of the US, but globally.  We are seeing much unhappiness, and attendant mental illness, worldwide, especially among young people. 

     Now, it is true, the world does seem a total mess.  But let’s keep it in proportion.  Despite everything, we are better off than 50 or 100 years ago.

     What should each of us do?   Perhaps – fight back.  In our own lives, we can emphasize the positive.  Before we rise in the morning, thank the Creator for returning our soul and recount our many blessings.  Resist the global trend to see only the negative, and try to stress the positive.

     Voltaire, in Candide, mocked such optimism, satirizing it in Dr. Pangloss.  No, all is not for the best in this the best of all possible worlds.  But, a slight modification, we can try to see the very best, in this, an amazing world full of beauty, goodness and kindness.  And maybe, if enough of us try this, we can turn around those bleak stats.