It’s no surprise that people all over the world have ill-formed ideas about people from the USA, and that we have ill-formed ideas about people from other countries. Unless one is well read (meaning a familiarity with books by various authors from various countries on various subjects), one’s perceptions are created by the media. It’s the news agencies — national and international — that decide what is worth printing or talking about or recording, and decent people going about their daily activities of taking care of themselves and their families are not fodder for news. Instead, the world is fed a constant diet of articles and editorials showcasing the worst behavior of people in the United States, for example.
That’s the same here. The worst behaviors are newsworthy, and so that’s what we hear about. If I only knew of my fellow citizens by what I read in newspapers or see on television, I’d be disgusted, too. Luckily, I don’t read newspapers or watch television (except sometimes with the older woman I help care for), so I am free to make up my own mind — without preconceived notions — about the people I meet. I have also defriended people online who are so single-minded they can never conceive that their ideas, fostered by the media, can be wrong, and so they perpetrate the same myths about the horror of life here in the USA.
It’s a good thing, too, that I accept fiction for what it is — made up stories told by people with their own particular world views — otherwise, I’d really have a bad idea about this country. When so many books detail murders and serial killers and vigilantes, you’d think this truly was a terrible place to live. As would be Canada and Britain and France and Scandinavia and all the other places where the books I read take place. All those countries would also be places that are riddled with ghosts and things that go bump in the night as well as enough heat from sex scenes to add to the ambient temperature.
Wait!! I just thought of something. Around the same time that global warming began to be heavily touted, books began to serve up steamy loves scenes at a greater rate and greater heat than ever before, a direct result of ebooks. People who would not be caught dead reading soft porn paperbacks could suddenly read such fodder without anyone knowing, and “hot” books proliferated. Could there be a connection? (You do know I’m being facetious, right? At least, I think I am.)
If grief — and my writing about grief — has taught me nothing else, it’s that we are all so much more alike than we ever imagined. I have “met” people from all over the United States, from every economic strata, from cities to farms, as well as people from all over the world. And we are all suffering the same sorrows, all going through the same patterns of grief, all missing the one we love.
So, in my own little way — just being myself, writing about my grief, my trips, my dreams, my life, and now my house and yard — I am promoting a sense of peace and amity (and sanity) so often lacking in the news media. I don’t delude myself that it makes a big difference, but I’m not adding to the negativity, either.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.