When I was a kid there was a weekly newspaper called Grit, described as “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.”
It was sold door to door and was popular with boys my age because you could earn a nickel per sale. They advertised it in the back of Boys Life magazine, which meant my two brothers and I were all over it.
But my kid brother Marty already tossed the Great Bend Tribune, and my older brother Tim and I were mowing lawns all over town, so mother Ramona put the kibosh on the grand plans. But that didn’t stop us from dreaming. Boys Life featured other ads that captivated us, like building your own worm farm. We also spent hours inspecting the ads for authentic X-ray goggles, sea monkeys and a real Polaris submarine — all delivered by the mailman.
But as the years passed, I have remembered what made Grit unique — it only reported happy, positive, uplifting news. When Grit as a weekly newspaper folded in 1990 the space dedicated to happy news went silent. And depressing news quickly filled the void.
As the world is falling apart, I wonder if Grit could possibly make a comeback. If it did, the marketing plan would need an extreme makeover because no parent would allow their son to sell anything door to door. If there is a website, or a newsletter dedicated to babies being born, families rescued from hopelessness, or pets saved from shelters, someone send it to me, and I will give it visibility right here. Because right now we could use some good news.
Let’s face it — hate is having a field day. And the social media world is enabling it all the way to our desktops. Norman Vincent Peale published a book called the “Power of Positive Thinking” in the ’60s, but maybe it’s good he died before cable TV gave violence a nightly platform. Should we be surprised that the most popular cable show is “The Walking Dead”?
Can you imagine your parents in the 1960s asking their children: “Hey kids — do you want to watch “Lassie” or a show about dead people terrorizing families?”
I could give other examples but that would be, well, you know.
I’m a positive person. I’ve read all the books about positive thinking, like “The Secret,” which took me all of five minutes. I get up each morning with a routine that reminds me how fortunate I am and a promise to make a difference in other people’s lives. I climb in the car and the first news I hear is something about ISIS. Things go downhill from there.
So if I can’t have Grit, then I want a good news channel — GNC — like the CBS Sunday Morning program, which could repeat its programming all day every day.
My dad watches CBS but also the Weather Channel and I asked him why. “The forecast gives me something to look forward to,” he said. “It has interesting stories about storms and weather. Maybe you are just watching the wrong things.”
Perhaps, yes. Amazon shows 41,000 books on the topic of positive thinking, but not a single one about how I can create my own GNC cable TV channel.
I think I just went negative.
Uplifting stories remind us there is so much good in the world. Even out of tragedy there are inspirational stories — no better examples than the Ebola recoveries of missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Whitebol. Or even Monday’s Star article about the Threshold Choir in Lawrence that visits hospice settings and sings softly at the bedsides of those near death.
I started to listen to the Catholic Channel on XM radio in my car but then I start thinking about how long it’s been since my last confession.
So my GNC would offer blocks of time with classic movie marathons with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with the original Nutty Professor playing in heavy rotation. It would include segments of classical music, James Taylor concerts and Celtic Woman. There would be hours of classic sports highlights, including replaying the Royals dream season in 1985 and iconic KU-MU games that were once the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi until MU bolted for the dollar signs.
There I go again.
Visit Matt’s blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.