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Updated: July 13, 2012 05:01:48 PM



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Updated: July 13, 2012 05:01:48 PM

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Yes, Newsreaders, There IS Good News


by Elizabeth Eidlitz

January 30, 2011 - The media saturates us with depressingly bad news:  not just the daily casualties of a distant war, but horrors on the domestic landscape as well: a teenager set on fire over a bicycle incident, a child kept in a closet, hit and run drunk drivers, mothers murdering their kids, the horrific tragedy in Tucson, celebrity scandals, and bullied students committing suicide.


The press knows how shocking front-page stories and scare headlines get our attention and that the sensational sells. But why are mitigating positive stories-- ones that reassure, amuse, inspire, and empower us as they open our hearts --usually relegated to back pages?


When, typically, 9/10ths of TV channel news and daily newspaper headlines imply that the world is going to hell, it’s easy to miss the AP story of an Alaskan dentist who gave an injured bald eagle a prosthetic beak. He used temporary crown material meant for people, poster putty, and a yellow highlighter to tint the patches. The bird center says the eagle, whom they’ve dubbed Cyrano, is doing just fine but won't be able to return to the wild. He needs to have his fish chopped up for him.


What about the endearing kindness of two grandchildren who deserved 15 minutes of fame for offering their free needle-threading service to the Hopkinton Senior Center?


How come the press repeatedly calculated and recalculated the 2,976 deaths from terrorist attacks on 9/11, though 7 times more people survived? Where were the stories of how 21,000 humans lived by holding onto, helping, and leading each other out of darkness? 


If you want your spirits uplifted by renewed trust in genuine unadulterated love, witness a YouTube video that shows the reunion of a lion named Christian and the two men who raised him and then released him into the wild nearly 40 years ago; the video is above.


John Rendall, a young Australian living in London in 1969, bought the 3-month-old lion cub at Harrods.  Rendall and his friend, Anthony Bourke, worked in a custom furniture store whose basement became Christian’s den when he wasn’t accompanying his caretakers to restaurants, riding in the back seat of their Bentley, or playing soccer in a walled-in garden.


Rendall said they took a “horse whisperer” approach to raising the animal, never restraining it or using physical force of any kind; instead, they indicated by tone of voice what was appropriate and what wasn’t.


But a year later when the 35 pound cub weighed 185, and could shatter a window by leaning against it, the men decided it was time to introduce Christian to his natural habitat: they left him with George Adamson in Kenya.


Returning for a visit a year later, the former owners were told that the lion would never recognize them.


The video shows the lion approaching the two men from a distance--“You can see in that clip his body language,” Rendall says. “When he first starts seeing us, he’s looking, looking. Is it us? Is it us? And then suddenly, he says, ‘Right, this is them.’ And down he comes. And there wasn’t a moment that we ever doubted that it was going to be a wonderful greeting … we never doubted it.”


 In a moment of unmistakable recognition and joy, Christian runs to leap exuberantly into the arms of human friends. 


“He ran toward us with such love and excitement in his eyes, and we felt exactly the same way,” says Bourke.


Bourke and Rendall saw Christian once more in 1974, and he still recognized them. But, doubled in size, he’d become king of the jungle, with a pride of wild lionesses and a litter of cubs. His genes had been passed on back into the wild. After that time, he was never seen again.


What makes this unsentimental story of a beautiful relationship strike such deep emotional chords? 


It’s difficult to find words to explain.  And certainly words aren’t needed.  Even without knowledge, there are things that 12 million misty-eyed viewers simply know.


We need the media to make us aware more often of such moments of human integrity that release us from the commonplace world.  

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