A while ago, as part of my ongoing efforts to be less cynical and to take postive action towards alleviating my depression, I made a decision - albeit a guilt-ridden one - to curb my exposure to the news. Yes, being aware of what is going on in the world is important - and I realise that some people will be horrified by this admission - but some time back I decided that my mental health was more important to me than knowing all about what's going on outside my door.
Watching or reading the news in the UK makes me anxious, feaful and unhappy. I am not sure what it is about this country and its presentation of current events, but much of the time it seems there are only two kinds of coverage - the gloomy and the inane. It doesn't help that my father, who worked as a film editor at a news station in Melbourne for many years, had a very low opinion of the manipulative nature of the media and the self-important unscrupulousness of the journalists who worked there.
Checking the BBC news site now and again is about as much as I will tolerate now, and that's only because it gives the user some semblance of control over what they are ingesting.
Every now and again, however, a story bucks the trend by reaffirming my faith in humankind. So it is that I heard of Lloyd Gardener, a young man who came forward with information relating to a horrific rape case, and subsequently donated the £10,000 witness reward money he received to the victim of the crime. Decent.
I experienced some Pure Human Decency (PHD) myself recently while cycling home late one night, when a motorcyclist pulled up next to me at the lights and warned me I'd lost my rear light a way back. I thanked him and hopped off, cursing my bad luck - cycling through London at night without a rear light is a bit too kamikaze for my liking - and started walking back down the busy street to see if I could find it. Just as it was dawning on me how hopeless the task was, a Japanese couple walked up to me, the woman's cupped hands extended towards me with a hopeful smile on her face. They had seen me lose my light, fetched it from the gutter and waited for me to come back. I smiled broadly and thanked them profusely, while they bowed and smiled back at me. It was a lovely moment of human connection amid the chaos of Tottenham Court Road on a Friday night.
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If you'd like to partake of some PHD, consider joining the Karma Army. You don't even have to sign up if you don't want to, you can just practice some random acts of kindness under your own steam. Not newsworthy, perhaps, but definitely worthy.