On the way out to visit my family back east this July, I spent the entire red-eye flight flipping between news stations as the sniper attack on Dallas police officers unfolded. As we sped miles above the northern United States, the death toll rose, the attacker was taken down, true and false reports flowed in, commentators searched for explanations. During our family vacation, I was happy to learn that the most newsworthy item seemed to be Pokémon Go, which I blissfully ignored. On the way back to Seattle, strolling through the terminal at Logan International Airport with my happy, sleepy, sun-soaked children, a pithy thought crossed my mind: maybe we wouldn’t see any more tragedies for a little while. But back on the plane, the news glowed from the headrest in front of me: families were literally being torn apart at an idyllic seaside celebration in southern France. Please, I prayed, don’t let any of the victims be children. But this was a vain prayer.
It’s no wonder many Americans yearn for — and believe we can get back to — a simpler time. As I write this, three Baton Rouge police officers, including one who had a four-month-old baby, are being buried. How many more tragedies will we endure before this issue even goes to print?
For many years, I’ve imagined starting a newspaper with only good news. (Of course, no one would read it.) As a member of the media, I’m aware of the damage we can do by focusing on catastrophe, when in fact each one of us is more likely to get struck by lightning than die in a mass shooting, so the stats say.
So here are some good things to talk about: scientists and doctors are making strides every day to push back against our most devastating diseases, and a disproportionate amount of innovation is coming out of Israel — something we had a lot of fun exploring for this issue. Giant leaps for better health and disease treatment are coming out of Seattle, too, especially in the fields of genetics and immunotherapy. For all the people dying, we need to remember that many, many people are surviving — and living better lives than they ever could have before. Despite the borders that seem to go up all the time between races, classes, countries, religions, and neighbors, we should remember that elsewhere those borders are coming down, as you’ll see in an incredible story in our Roots section about the relationship between a local synagogue and the Bosnian Muslim community.
There’s a quote attributed (albeit somewhat falsely) to Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The bad news will continue, and sometimes it will be overwhelming. We should try to be the good news.
Emily K. Alhadeff