With Great Power…

While it’s important to pay attention to the world around us, sometimes the headlines can be too much to handle.


photo by Kristen Kinzler

It is commediable for young adults to take interest in current events, but they risk becoming jaded at a much too young age.

Kristen Kinzler, Junior Class Editor

Every morning when I get to school, I sit down, take a long sip of my coffee, and open my inbox. I read the “Morning Briefing,” sent by The New York Times. It’s a daily email with five or so headlines regarding the most significant current events happening around the world.

I signed up for this mailing list because I figured it was an easy way to stay informed, which is something I highly value. I was taught to believe that, as Americans, it’s our responsibility to know what’s going on in the world around us — so much so that it has become an intrinsic value of sorts. Adults and teachers in my life have continuously preached knowledge over naivety.

However, no matter how vital, it can be an agonizing chore to stay continuously educated on news that is often heartbreaking or infuriating.

The more I read or watch the news, the more hopeless it seems. Once a certain politician is revealed to be corrupt, the next one lines up for the an even worse revelation. One tragic event only precedes dozens of others. Every news update on climate change is condemning and devastating. 

There’s no end, and it feels so overwhelming.

I don’t want to be a political cynic at the age of sixteen. I want to believe in rightful change and the power of the people and all the things I was led to praise about this country. So, I read articles, watch the local news, and keep myself updated. But more often than not, it just makes me feel confused and sad and infinitely tiny.

Maybe I’m still trying to view the world through a much too innocent lens. Maybe I have too much empathy for the people whose stories I hear about. Maybe I’m still just approaching the news as something that should reaffirm my thoughts on how the world should be when it is really the opposite.

I don’t want to be a political cynic at the age of sixteen.”

Granted, I could change my mindset so that I’m less disappointed and shocked by the evening news, but that requires changing my core belief that people are better than this.

Call me stubborn, but I’m not willing to stop having faith that we, as a society, the society at large, can do what’s right. I’m not ready to let that go.

So, instead, I am torn apart when I see a story about how a gunshot wound kit in a choir classroom saved a student’s life in Santa Clarita — because it means that a teacher felt the need to have a gunshot first aid kit in what should have been a safe environment. The thought brings me to tears.

I’m sick of hearing about shootings. I’m tired of reading about the endless corruption in politics. I’m frustrated with people acting like nothing can ever change. 

It’s as if the world that I have barely even experienced yet is painted darker and bleaker by the day. Those in positions of power have made the decision for me that all is doomed.

It takes so much mental energy to stay aware, both because of biased news sources and the tragic stories that are so prevalent in today’s media. It’s emotionally exhausting to seek out information that you know is just going to upset you.

Additionally, the responsibility to remain updated on current events cannot rest solely on students. It should also be the school’s responsibility. However, many social studies and history classes focus exclusively on events that happened dozens or hundreds or even thousands of years ago. 

Discussing the news and giving students a chance to digest it, ask questions, and engage in a constructive conversation can make all that’s going on in the world feel a lot less scary.

In my American History class a few weeks ago, Mr. Lyons gave us about half a period to ask any questions we had about current events. He opened up the floor to discussion, and it was incredible. Students were able to clear up any misconceptions they had heard and learn about any large events they might have missed.

It was one of the most engaging lessons we’ve had all year, and while I was extremely grateful, I couldn’t help but wonder why it wasn’t a normal occurrence in every classroom. Such an activity teaches modern literacy, and it makes the political world appear more approachable.

While that class did make me feel much better about the week’s headlines, at other times, the news frustrates me so much that I wish I could just stop reading and watching. Honestly, ignorance seems like such an easier option.

Realistically, I know I can’t disengage. I’d feel too guilty. Again, I truly believe that having access to all of this information is a privilege. After all, this country ensures freedom of the press beyond all historical precedents. 

I have enormous admiration for journalists who work hard to unveil the truth because it helps us protect the idea of liberty and justice for all. Not appreciating the role of the media, to me, is foolish.

An informed population is the only way to combat an increasing amount of ignorance in modern politics. Right now, the spotlight is cast on those who scream the loudest— not the actual message being conveyed. Paying close attention is the key to clearing the slate in order to talk about what’s really important.

But I cannot refuse to pay attention, because, as is often said, knowledge is power.”

As much as I want to give up after reading endlessly negative news articles, I know I can’t. I can be outraged for those who have been wronged, and I can use that emotion to promote positive change, even if it is on the very smallest scale.

But I cannot refuse to pay attention, because, as is often said, knowledge is power. There are stories that deserve to be heard, no matter how sad they may make me feel. There are things I should know about. It’s my responsibility. 

So, I will continue to open my “Morning Briefing” every morning. I will read every story. 

It may be naive or pointless, but if we can ever hope to transform all those depressing headlines into positive ones, we must be informed. The only way out of this mess of awful stories is through.

It is impossible to change a world that you know nothing about. And right now, we are in need of more change than ever before.