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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  "Now, more than ever..."
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Friday, February 5,2016

"Now, more than ever..."

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

Sometimes I think if I hear that phrase again I’ll jump out a window. It is repeated so often, especially during election cycles. Candidates insist that we have “never before” seen such a crisis - whether fiscal, cultural, international… Henny Pennies need to convince the electorate that the sky is falling and they are the only one who can fix it… before it’s too late!!! Hogwash. But while the “now more than ever” cliché is overused and misleading (there are plenty of episodes in our history that I am, frankly, glad I missed) it is easy to see why it is such a popular mantra.


Cable news channels compete for attention in an oversaturated marketplace. Wolf Blitzer hosts his show from the “Situation Room”, requiring a new “situation” (or several) to get his audience hyped up and hooked for two hours every day. That is a lot of situations. Fox News and MSNBC need to compete with all of the “breaking news” on CNN, so they chime in with crises more tailored to their audiences, namely political reports about how horribly the “other side” is ruining the country and creating a sense of urgency because “things have never been worse!” Television programs need audiences to stay alive; they need a dedicated following. In order to do this, they create an environment of “us” versus “them”. When “others” are demonized, fanatics are created. Fanatics (fans) are the engine that keep entertainment machines alive.

This high calorie, low nutrition sycophantry is clogging the arteries of our public discourse. Claims of “now more than ever” are short sighted, fear-based and, perhaps a little lazy. All one has to do is READ. Read history books. Read the autobiographies of our founding fathers (and mothers, for that matter). Read about the ancient civilizations. Read about the French Revolution. Read about the Enlightenment. Read about the Gilded Age. Read, Read, and Read some more. Then you will be able to see that all of the hype and vitriol being spouted by politicians, all of the chatter on TV, talk radio and the internet, all of the morning shows and interviews... are just corporations doing what they do best: getting us emotionally hooked on their product. There are challenges in our time, yes, as there have always been.

I am here to tell you, it is not the worst of times. We are not Chicken Little and the sky is not falling. Sure, bad, and even scary things are occurring, but they always have. I am not suggesting we do nothing, just that we don’t buy into the hype. Decide what is important and work for change in that direction, but do it from a place of hope, not panic. Be confident that, deep down, we all want the same things: to love and be loved; to be safe; and for those of us lucky to live in the free part of the world today, to exercise our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The first step toward being truly free is to live in the absence of fear. “Now, more than ever!” is hogwash. Rather, now, as ever, we live in an imperfect world where hope and love are needed more than fear, but fear still rules. Awareness is the first step toward change.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by Jonna Shutowick, M.S. Ed.

Jonna Shutowick, M.S. Ed. is a high school history teacher for the Palm Beach County school district. She has created a character named Rosey Shades TM , whose philosophy teaches students about the importance of choosing optimism over pessimism by asking, “What color are the clouds in your world?

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