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Drinking in the tonic of good news

“How do you get ideas for your columns?” Green Flash readers ask from time to time. The reply is that there is never a time when there aren’t several ideas vying for attention, and each one leaps or links to another in a chain of association.

The spark for this column arrived while listening to NPR’s “On Point” while driving. My attention became riveted by an interview with David Beard, founder of The Optimist newsletter at the Post (he also writes for the Recharge newsletter of Mother Jones). I heard how he’d taken a great risk in asking his editors if he could start a good news e-bulletin to flash to subscribers on Sundays to leaven their mounting worries. There followed talk with Gail Rosenblum, editor of the Inspired section at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and Lori Lakin Hutcherson, editor of Good Black News.

It struck me that we are ahead of the game here on Kauai. How fortunate, I thought, that our editor Bill Buley arrived on island open to the idea — which he stated years ago and has followed through upon — to feature good and uplifting news. Not syrupy, sappy-cutesie stuff, but real positive news as feature material. It’s only in recent months that the need to focus on good news is the trend of big mainland U.S.A. papers and media. Rather than losing subscribers, the editors I heard interviewed reported that subscriptions are increasing.

Good news — the opposite, obviously, of “dog bite” news, a journalistic term for news that grabs the reader with a negative (if not shocking) grip, consists of stories that present a positive slant. This type of news doesn’t slam your gut, but activates your emotional heart.

The breathe is not inhaled sharply as in the shocker. The fight and flee button is not pressed. Blood pressure doesn’t rise, as when the reader or listener receives yet another “downer” on a growing mountain of worrisome issues ranging from lost pets and neighborhood thefts to tainted foods, recalled cars, to pills that promise to fix all but come with the risk of serious side-effects.

We aren’t wired to be immune to reports of terrorism, war, and a litany of fallen heroes and damaged cities with equally damaged surviving inhabitants, to the credible news of global warming and its current and impending consequences.

Stop somewhere in that busy personal schedule and contemplate all that we human beings are being bombarded with in the way of “bad tidings,” minute-to-minute. Is it no wonder that feelings of powerlessness and depression overtake many people, and substance abuse and suicide are on the increase?

Poet Mary Oliver has penned, “It is a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.” This phrase is my current “ear worm” (to steal a phrase from modern musical lexicon). This “broken world”…

If you, too, take Oliver’s lines to heart, you might wholly agree that our world right now does seem “broken,” and it definitely is becoming a more and more “serious thing just to be alive.”

However, “just to be alive” is not enough. Turning the old adage, “If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it,” inside out, rather than the doom-and-gloom outlook, the challenge has arrived as never before to seek solutions with all the creativity, talent and specialized training we can bring to bear on serious issues.

The good news is that a grand swell of energy is rising, bringing openness and fresh ideas to change what is difficult and harmful for our community — not just humans, but all beings and nature surrounding us.

Each small wave gives rise toward a veritable tsunami of redemption. In this period of transformation, we can look to the good news to mend what is broken and take the “just” from the phrase, “just to be alive,” becoming fully alive, as when we were joyful, trusting children.

Each small act that stems from the healing heart casts of negativity, from kissing away tears and sticking a Bandaid on an “owie” to joining others working for community betterment and social justice.

Don’t discount the value of growing and sharing vegetables and flowers, offering a kind word, spending quality time with people and children you befriend and love, preparing and sharing meals, recycling, picking up a Habitat for Humanity hammer, spending contemplative, prayerful time alone, or just pure “having fun.”

Becoming involved and dedicated to any such example and a myriad of other pursuits each reader may be drawn to, will renew feelings of direction and personal worth.

Many wise women and men have said this better, but that doesn’t prevent me from replaying it through the lens of my own thoughts and insights for your consideration as a loving reminder.

My challenge for you this time, Dear Readers, is to note how much good and hopeful news you can find, dwell upon, and perhaps act on in coming weeks.

Over the last fortnight my mental tally went wild with items from the graphic beauty shown in “Island Album” to Happy Camper upbeat social news, hawksbill turtle nesting, saving tourists hellbent on dangerous pursuits, a community meeting called to address the crisis of homelessness, a national award received for our island’s General Plan, prizes and honors awarded to thoughtful young writers, announcements of creative new classes coming to KCC… My list continues, but I leave it to you, now, to tally up your own, to readjust your focus should you choose to, and to plunge into this wave for positive change.


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, resident author and poet, has focused her supportive interests within the Kauai community since the early 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live in Wailua Homesteads. Their passion for travel flows into the writer’s TGI column, “FarAway Places.” Kawahara’s books are available through Amazon and other outlets. For information, email
Source: The Garden Island

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