JP 1/29 Column

Monday event emits optimism

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, scientists somewhere in the U.S. have determined the effects of global warming are irreversible.

According to any official who studies growth, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are growing faster than anyone could have imagined and sprawling so much they will soon blend together – at which point all the benefactors of an “advancing” health care industry who’ve made national population trends resemble the ideology of the cancer cell will look to places beyond North Carolina again and again until the entire country is destroyed.

According to conservatives, terrorists are going to blow us up. According to liberals, we’re going to blow us up.

What’s the common theme I’m getting at? The world is clearly doomed no matter who you ask – the only difference in theories is what will bring about its end. Sadly, you could go on with this list, too. Health officials think we’re all going to die of heart disease, AIDS, teen pregnancy of a combination of all three. Tree-huggers think we’re bloodthirsty war mongrels because we don’t cut apart the plastic six-pack rings holding our beers together before we throw them in the trash can which should, by the way, be a recycling bin.

Religious nuts think – well, I’m not sure what they think, or if they even think at all.

I‘m not completely convinced we‘re that bad off – I’d imagine, instead, we will simply wait until the last moment to take action against a really bad problem and then be okay. Still, it’s downright discouraging to hear so much bad news about the future – those nerds working off university grants always come up with a new way for everyone to die.

That’s why events like the Black Hawk helicopter landing at Trenton Elementary earlier this week just make my day. I don’t get to spend much time around school kids on a regular basis, so I tend to get really upbeat and optimistic whenever I cover a “feel-good” event at a school such as the helicopter landing. I cover the crime beat for the Free Press, not education – which could be a lot of the reason why most of the time at my job I’m feeling a little downtrodden about where our society’s headed.

Actually, I know that’s the reason – and the delicious hodgepodge of government meetings I attend don’t make me feel any better.

Not the case with the elementary students I spoke to Monday, though. Only a couple 8 through 10-year-olds were quoted in the story (sorry to all the children who didn’t get their names in print – can’t fit everyone in there) , but I talked to so many who shared a similar trait: they were just happy to be there. They were all smiles, full of chatter – downright psyched about the rest of the school day.

It was what science would define as “a positive environment.”

I don’t like to use terms like “everyone” when talking about who was happy since I did not talk to everyone at the event (besides – there had to have been at least one kid there who had a stomach ache and wanted to go home), but I would gladly bet my neighbor’s cat that at least 90 percent of the students were sincerely ecstatic about a military helicopter landing behind their school.

Here’s my point: sometimes we all need a little reminder things aren’t as bad as the scientists, experts and fanatics tell us. If the only news you read (and, as much as it pains me to say it, watch) is the bad stuff that’s meant to scare you into recycling, eating granola and looking for a hut somewhere in the jungle to live, you’re probably going to have a grim outlook on the way things are going.

So open your eyes a little bit more and appreciate things the way a child does and you’ll see we’re not as bad-off as it sounds. Jones County educators do a very good job of exposing their students to what they have to look forward to once they finish school – that optimism being crushed and suffocated later in life courtesy of regular doses of bad news is truly unfortunate.

We should all give more thought to events that make us excited instead of dwelling on society’s shortcomings – that’s what the children at Trenton Elementary made me realize earlier this week.

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