Nerine found this passage on prayer and the news by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Once I tried an experiment by showing an audience a sheet of white paper, with a black dot at the centre, and asked them what they saw. With only one exception they replied, ‘A black dot’. I then pointed out that the dot took up less that one percent of what they were looking at. They had missed, discounted, or ignored the white sheet of paper that gave the black dot its place. As soon as they realised this, we began to understand why the media so often present a distorted view of the world – why bad news is news, while good news rarely is.
The information that surrounds us is all too often a litany of disasters – wars, famines, crashes, crimes, the clash of politicians and fear for the future. Those who argue for more good news are often accused of being naïve, or sentimental, of wanting to whitewash over pain and suffering and corruption that exists in so many parts of the world.
The simple explanation is that news is like the black spot on white paper. If the paper were black, we would not even see it. Bad news is news precisely because so much of life is good. Lawbreaking is noteworthy only because the vast majority of people are law-abiding. Corruption hits the headlines only in countries where honesty is the norm. The very fact that bad things are noteworthy is the most telling evidence of the fundamental goodness of our world.
This, for me, is the power and necessity of prayer. Prayers of thanksgiving bring to the foreground what is usually in the background. They are acts of focussed attention on the white paper without which we would not notice the black dot. They remind us that without the dominance of kindness, we would be indifferent to cruelty. Without faithfulness, we would be unmoved by betrayal.
Around us everywhere, flooding us with its light, is the dazzling goodness of most of creation. Order instead of chaos, diversity not monotony, the brilliant colours and intricacy of the natural world and the hundred acts of human grace for every one of gracelessness. The majesty of faith is that it teaches us to see what exists, not merely what catches our attention.
What makes us human is that we are capable of seeing existence whole, the landscape of beauty that forms the backdrop against which we notice the ugly, the cruel, and the unjust. Prayer, not the press, is what makes good news.
(Extract from ‘Celebrating Life: Finding Happiness in unexpected places’ by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks)