18 June 2020

No news is good

The Caribbean Sea is justifiably famous for its well over 7000 idyllic islands

They are the very definition of paradise: you are free to lie in a hammock under a coconut tree or swim in the aquamarine sea.

However, the picture of paradise hides a dirty, little secret - life here ain't perfect.

The Brothers Cay, in the southern part of the Caribbean off the coast of Colombia, is named for two brothers who died in unfortunate circumstances many years apart over a century ago.

The first to die was a young boy, a toddler,killed by a falling coconut. This threw the island into mourning for some weeks. And for months afterwards, mothers and others would encourage everyone to not linger under dangerous coconut trees. 

After a year or so however, life returned to normal, people stopped worrying and returned to relaxing and playing in the shade of coconut trees, and enjoying their idyllic life.

The toddler's brother grew to be a well-respected elder, but fifty years after the death of his brother by coconut, this man was killed in a shark attack while he swam in the aquamarine blue sea. 

There were months of mourning, and for this period and months beyond, mothers and others were again particularly vigilant, and everyone was discouraged from entering the water.

After a year or so, life returned to normal, people stopped worrying and returned to swimming and frolicking in the aquamarine blue seas, and enjoying their idyllic life.

The threat of unprovoked attacks by coconuts and sharks is present on all the inhabited islands of the Caribbean - but it is exceedingly rare. 

Most live long, happy lives. This is life in the Caribbean. A paradise - but with an occasional case of bad luck.

Then in 1980, the CNN (or Caribbean News Network) was launched.

The 7000+ islands of the Caribbean eagerly signed up as subscribers.

The CNN offered everyone an opportunity to be up to date with all the news of the Caribbean.

The idea was that the network would allow the Caribbean islands to share the pleasant stories about their respective paradises. 

But the good stories were not that interesting: the weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious, the water was delightful, and the people laughed and played. 

If you have seen one paradise, you have seen them all. This was not news.

What was news was when things went wrong - like the incidents involving the brothers in whose memory Brothers Cay was named. Tragic events proved to be great news. 

Death by coconut or shark attack occurred about twice every 50 years in each of the 7000 plus islands. 

CNN was publishing nearly 300 stories about untimely deaths in paradise every year. 

Paradise lost its pearly lustre with the nearly constant stream of tragedy being broadcast by the CNN. The news business boomed; and people's fears bloomed.

Mothers and others on all islands were constantly alerted to the risks they faced, and were constantly warning everyone away from lingering under coconut trees and swimming in the aquamarine blue sea.

The islanders were constantly stressed, depressed, fearful, frightened, concerned, worried, scared and generally unhappy. 

There were of course a number of cures for this anxiety. One cure was to rest up in a hammock tied between two coconut trees. 

Another cure was to take a swim in the aquamarine sea.

But both of these options were now 'dangerous', and mothers and others discouraged anyone from doing either.

CNN became a typhoon Mary spreading stories of catastrophe like a contagion through out the Caribbean people. The infestation of bad news killed the positive spirit of the people.

In paradise, there is no news. Not because there are no stories, but because ignorance is idyllic.

No news is good.

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