Let’s choose our direction

Editorial: With research showing that the world is becoming more peaceful and that most people in the UK share values such as caring and trust, by telling a fuller story the media could influence our collective psychology for the better

The world is more peaceful now than it has perhaps ever been.

Hard to believe isn’t it? But as Dan Smith explains, with some key global issues such as war and peace, we are making encouraging progress.

Meanwhile, the first national assessment of British values has revealed that across society many people are prioritising values such as caring, honesty and trust.

Interestingly however, the survey showed that people see these values reflected in their communities, but many don’t see them reflected at the national level. How is that so when the nation is a collection of individuals and communities?

Mark Williamson suggests that there is a frustration with the priorities being set by our leaders. Dan Smith might add that there is a problem with “the limitations of the institutions we have developed to regulate our affairs,” as he writes in the introduction to his book, The State of the World Atlas.

But Williamson also says that “our perception of what happens nationally is more negative than the true picture; the constant negativity in our media surely plays a big part in this.”

So perhaps the institution of the media needs to evolve to tell a fuller picture, and do so in a way that honours our values.

“Change has two directions,” writes Chris Johnstone in our new Positive Psychology column, “away from and towards.” He continues: “In the 20th century, psychology focused more on the negative, on what we might want to move away from… That balance is now changing.”

As with psychology, so it is with the media – the storytelling machine that reflects and influences our collective psychology.

While I urge readers to remain informed of and responsive to the problems of the world, it is by increasing our focus on the solutions and on a positive vision that we will create a world that reflects what we value.


This is an adapted version of the editorial in the Spring 2013 issue of Positive News. To get Positive News in print, please become a member.