What Stops Us From Hoping

Buying groceries should be, at the very least, a conflict-free experience. But I was in the checkout line of a grocery store recently and saw a tabloid headline screaming something about my church that was entirely untrue. The magazine had several other cover stories about celebrities and politicians, all of which looked about as true as the article on Scientology.

It got me thinking: who actually works at tabloids like that? What are their story pitch meetings like? Do they know that what they’re doing is hurtful and destructive? They must, right? Do they just laugh it all off or make justifications to convince themselves they’re still good people, and that it’s “just for entertainment”?

Magazine rack
Photo by Niloo/Shutterstock.com

It didn’t surprise me that the tabloid was broadcasting fiction about my religion. Making stuff up is how they make their money after all.

But what about more “legitimate” news sources? What can we expect from them?

I looked at the homepages of the country’s two leading news organizations. Here are some choice words I found on the first:

Alarm, bribery, threat, abuse, warns, rips, violated, shocking

And from the second:

Blame, crisis, confrontation, shooter, problems

It seeps into our world view and saps our collective energy like a cancer. It’s also exactly what makes Scientology such a target.

If you really take a step back and look at this phenomenon, it starts to seem crazy, and that’s because it is. Why do we spend so much time engaging with and prioritizing bad news, whether it’s “facts” from news organizations, or bizarre, made-up stories in tabloids?

I think it’s got something to do with the fact that we’ve all dared to hope in our lives, only to have those hopes dashed by agreements broken, whether by someone close to us or by a snake-oil salesman making promises he couldn’t keep. The thinking goes that if we just all agree on how bad everything is and that there’s probably not much that can be done about it, we can then hide under our blankets and never get hurt—if we don’t try, we can’t fail, so it’s safer to not even attempt to improve things.

But there’s a cynicism and hopelessness built into that line of thinking that’s almost too painful to look at. It seeps into our world view and saps our collective energy like a cancer. It’s also exactly what makes Scientology such a target.

Here are a few words from the homepage of Scientology.org:

Social betterment, help, celebration, history-defining, monumental

They’re not there by accident. And in a world that’s absolutely flooded with negative news coming from every direction all the time, it takes courage to stand up for what you believe, to take action to improve things and share that good news with the world.

The desire to help despite any obstacle, despite any amount of cynicism or hopelessness or vitriol that gets tossed our way, is one of the reasons I’m most proud to call myself a Scientologist. Hope and compassion and kindness and love will always, always win out over hate and loss and fear because we are, at our cores, hopeful, playful, positive spiritual beings, and no amount of cynicism can cover up that basic truth.

I always encourage my friends and acquaintances to take a break from the news. Find something you’re passionate about and dive into it. Take a walk around your neighborhood and observe the people around you. They’re often quite interesting and quite kind if you take a moment to simply look.

Life can knock you down any number of times. But having the courage to get back up and try, and believe, and dare to think that just because you lost today doesn’t mean you won’t win tomorrow, is all that matters. 

Wil Seabrook
Musician, writer, business owner, human rights advocate, aspiring Renaissance Man.