On my iPad the other day, I was checking the top headlines on a major news organization's app.
A certain influential national elected official/former reality TV star was everywhere. I must have counted his name in 15 headlines before I got to one that didn't include him. Then immediately after that came a half-dozen more that did.
Social media is even worse: Twitter and Facebook have become a vast wasteland of folks on the right and left who don't seem to realize the election was over three months ago. Apparently, these people eat, drink and sleep U.S. politics and intend to wage online war until Jesus returns. (Soon, please?)
Of course, I'm the last one who ought to be preaching on this overkill. I've lost count of how many stories, columns and blog posts I've written, just in the last few weeks, about HE WHO (JUST THIS ONCE) SHALL NOT BE NAMED.
Alas, news is news. I know that. And there's no doubt that the guy with the world's most interesting (that's not necessarily a compliment) haircut is big news. The biggest. Yuuuuuuuggge!!!
But can I admit that I'm tired of hearing about him? That I wish we'd occasionally talk about something else? Can I second the motion of a Facebook friend who suggested that we all go back to telling everybody what we ate for breakfast? (I had oatmeal this morning, by the way. But don't think too highly of me: That follows yesterday's bacon-egg-and-cheese taquito at Whataburger. One is healthier. The other has more calories and taste. But I digress ...)
As I reviewed the past day's religion headlines, I came across a Religion News Service story on drought and starvation in Kenya. How sad is it that this story impressed me as a welcome pick-me-up from depressing news at home?
Don't get me wrong: The news in East Africa is heartbreaking.
But here's why I was pleased to come across this piece: It reminds me that we live in a world that is much bigger than Washington, D.C. (although Americans certainly have a role to play in improving the situation in places like Kenya). It reminds me, as a journalist, that there are important stories to tell — and many of those stories fall outside the parameters of whatever controversial issue or outrageous thing somebody said happens to be trending on Twitter.
So as long as you've made it this far in this post (I count five of you), go ahead and check out the RNS story, which opens with this compelling lede:
MATUU, Kenya (RNS) When her pantry runs dry, Agnes Mwikali walks down a dusty road to the local Roman Catholic Church mission.
There, beyond the metal gate and the church garden where the crops are withering, she steps into the administration building and asks for a 4-pound bag of cornmeal.
In Thatha, her home, about 93 miles northeast of Nairobi, a severe drought has left many families without food, water and pasture for their livestock.
Mwikali, a 40-year-old mother, has watched in consternation, as extreme temperatures have destroyed crops, drained water sources and laid grazing fields to waste.
“We are trying everything,” she said. “There are many of us. Many families don’t have enough food.”
The whole story is definitely worth a read, especially if you — like me — would appreciate a break from some of those other headlines out there.
My only constructive criticism would be this: I wish the story had delved a little deeper into the spiritual side of how Kenya's people of faith cope with the drought. We hear from a Muslim leader that the people pray, but we don't get a strong feel for where they see the role of God — as opposed to the government — at this difficult time.
In any case, I appreciate you reading. This post has been much more stream of consciousness than I usually write, and I apologize if it didn't work for you.
I promise to return soon with actual clickbait that probably will include some mention of YOU KNOW WHO.