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Editorial Reflections

As news becomes old, community caring and action continue

As new news keeps unfolding, what happened to the Ebola outbreak, the Occupy movement, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Sandy Hook school, the ongoing flow of natural disasters or other recent stories? 

As news becomes old news, it does not disappear as media jump to the newest conflict, disaster or scandal, because people, informed by the news, may become inspired to make a difference. Thankfully after saturation coverage drops, there may be less panicked follow-up reports.

People continue to die of Ebola—7,373 as of mid December—and people continue to respond as it fades from the front page.  Someone developed a new protective suit for health care workers.  They exit from the back, which is less likely soiled by fluids.

The Occupy movement’s concerns about wealth inequality persist and education efforts arise in various venues, including showings of the movie “Inequality for All,” now on DVDs church adult forums can use. 

Fukushima workers feel forgotten as 6,000 work to decommission the crippled nuclear plant.  What progress is being made?  What is the effect on fish and the ocean?  Some are developing robots to go in during a future disaster.

The Sandy Hook School shooting may seem lost with the many shootings since then, but it is ever present through the ongoing political battles about gun control, including the passage of I-594 in this state.

We hear occasional stories of post-disaster recovery in Indonesia, New Orleans, New Jersey, and summer fires in Central Washington.  Faith groups have long-term disaster recovery efforts and channels for people to continue helping.

As the attention of journalists shifts to the latest “news,” reports continue to spark action by people as they protest, organize, serve and persist in efforts to seek solutions.

War is old, but continues to fill headlines with its changing venues, new strategies and differing opinions. The military industry and war proponents are consistently covered as they offer their justifications. 

In the midst of that, on Dec. 24, the newly ratified Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an international law to regulate the nearly $100 billion annual global trade in armaments and ammunition, went into force.  World Council of Churches member churches and partners in 50 countries lobbied for its binding standards to help save lives by restricting trade of weapons.  The United States is among 125 treaty signers.

Issues of police brutality, militarization and accountability in headlines in recent years have led citizens groups to demand changes.  In Spokane, the Department of Justice released a report on Dec. 19, after reviewing data on use of force, police attitudes and law enforcement approaches.  It recommends reforms that will need ongoing official and citizen involvement. 

A PBS interview with New Haven’s police chief, the former head of the National Black Police Association, and a University of Missouri criminal justice professor offered perspectives rarely in headlines.  They said police training should include ways to de-escalate confrontations before they turn violent by treating people they stop with respect and by calming people who are upset.  Even before crises, police need to know people in the community they serve and build relationships of trust.  Then they are less likely to use deadly force.

New Haven’s police chief said, “We are not an army in occupation or a foreign police force.  We belong to New Haven.”

Civic, nonprofit and faith community efforts involving tedious dialogue and trust-building take time and may seem lost as the news rushes on.  While some news may be less dramatic than the crises, massacres and ambushes of war, reports are essential news to keep citizens informed and engaged.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © January 2015 - The Fig Tree