"If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly."
- Thomas Sowell
STORY LINEby Analisa Hightower
I often think about the content of our news outlets, of the excessive turmoil our world is in, and it can make an already stressful day feel even worse. While there is a need for awareness of the current events in our world, the news often sensationalizes negative events to obtain more viewers. Numbly, we watch these reports having been bombarded by years of similar stories, cumulatively adding to the mounting stresses and negativity of our days. That's why last week, I was especially touched by a story about a young 5 year old boy's wish coming true after recovering from a lifelong fight with leukemia. He wanted more than anything to be Batman for a day and save Gotham city from the very evils that our news reports, and from which I was already tired.
His name is Miles and his deepest wish was to be Batman (he would later come to be known as Batkid) for a day. Miles' (aka "Batkid") story began at the beginning of this year as his leukemia and chemotherapy treatments were due to finish. At the end of his ordeal he had one wish - to be Batman for a day. His father, Nick Scott, would tell ABC, "chemo is all he's ever known. That's the life that he's known but this is kind of a way to celebrate the ending." The Make a Wish Foundation would step up to the plate and organize that celebration for him. On November 15th, 2013 Miles donned the batsuit and lived his dream.
Ultimately, San Francisco wasn't the first choice to substitute as the fictional Gotham, but it was the first to officially say yes. I was excited and thought, "how sweet, San Francisco will be Gotham City for a day." His Gotham - the city by the bay and a city which I love and grew up - went above and beyond, enlisting the mayor, its police force, and millions of citizens to transform the city. That one day San Francisco became Gotham City for Miles, for me, and for the world and it was like nothing I'd ever seen...
People came out in record numbers, my facebook and twitter feeds filled with news about the Batkid from all over the world. SF Gate had Batkid on their headlines and were tracking his progress through the city through live feeds the entire day. Companies lost revenue with the halt in productivity as its employees followed Miles' live news feed (or even followed him in person on his parade route), but what those companies gained were employees that returned renewed and inspired.
Standing on the street, waiting for Miles to crusade by, I looked at the faces next to me and what I saw en masse was entirely different than usual - I saw hope and joy... I was one of millions in a sea of strangers rallying around a boy we barely even knew, a boy that had beaten his cancer, and we cheered as he fought through staged crimes and even saved an actress playing a damsel in distress who fawned over Batkid's heroism.
Little Miles was reminding us that maybe we can overcome pain, disease, and suffering. And as his dreams were coming true, we watched together - cheering, laughing, crying - as this tiny superhero, this miniature marvel with a heart and a will bigger than most adults, was uniting a city.
It may have cost San Francisco $105,000 to stage the event and weeks have now passed, but his story was proof that people might just follow positive news after all. Miles Scott reminds us that there is a need for the positive, for the promise of something better, in our news stories. It was a taste of the good that lies within each one of us, a trip to that childlike place where we have forgotten to venture, that beautiful place where we all still dare to hope and dream.
REFLECTION by Analisa Hightower
During this holiday season I'd like to be idealistic and think that if we're able to come together as a community to cheer on this little boy with a wish, that maybe we as a community can come together over other issues. Maybe, knowing how touched Miles was and seeing that bright smile on his face, that will encourage folks to go out and help put those smiles on other peoples faces regardless of their age. And maybe, the news would inevitably follow, if we chose to focus on the positive side of our world instead.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thank you for your continued readership. You give us here at Friday Reflections much to be thankful for this holiday season.