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Good News in the World (By David Byrne)


The Scottish musician took up the task of collecting good news from around the world to remind us that all’s not wrong.

The news of the world are depressing. It’s enough to read or listen to the news to feel disconsolate and worried about the future. It’s as such in social or political terms, as it is with the situation of the planet. The world seems to be collapsing, or at least that’s what the media allow us to see every day.

Recently, David Byrne, the musician and artist best known for having been the lead singer of the Talking Heads, took up the task of collecting just good news. He has it written up in little articles, and he launched a website dedicated to promoting them. Reasons to Be Cheerful reminds us that not everything in the world is wrong and that, though there’s lots of work to be done, wonderful things still happen every day.

“I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it often seems as if the world is going straight to Hell. I wake up in the morning, I look at the paper, and I say to myself, ‘Oh no.’ Often I’m depressed for half the day.”

Thus Byrne wrote in his presentation of the hopeful project. And it’s true. Reading the news is the perfect way to grieve over everything we’ve done to the world.

But as it’s often said (not unreasonably), the good news is not always on the front page. It’s not divulged by the press because, for some reason, it’s the bad news that draws the most attention. In Byrne’s collection of writings, the selected news includes, often, local and community efforts. Their example reminds us not only that the world is not irremediably collapsing, but also that the people, their imagination, and their desire to be better, are in fact precisely what can save the world.

Some of the sections of Reasons to Be Cheerful include “Civic Engagement,” “Health,” “Urban/Transportation” and “Culture,” among others. The news describes initiatives and efforts whose existence is deeply hopeful, and even therapeutic. They remind us that, despite the devastating news that plagues the world, new endeavors are launched every day and bright things happen. There are always reasons to be happy when we have our eyes open to see them.

Below is a talk David Byrne recently gave on his project, Reasons to Be Cheerful.

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