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Seeing the news from the ground up

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

(Read caption) Dancers from Los Niños de Santa Fe (N.M.) school wait to perform traditional Mexican dances.

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Earth is a busy planet. So busy that it’s impossible to track what’s going on without using shorthand to talk about the big issues: “the war on terror,” “the rise of China,” “Middle East conflict,” “polarization in Washington.”

Prediction: In 2014, as in 2013, big issues like those will continue to grab headlines. Nations, parties, and ethnic groups will disagree, ideas will clash, problems will arise, attention will be paid to people who speak out or act up. But what is often lost in the rolling up of news into conflicts and forces and personalities are the lives not lived in the limelight – the iceberg of humanity, not the tip of it.

Recently, we asked Monitor correspondents to tell us about relationships and experiences they’ve encountered on the job, to describe the world as it looks from the ground up. The resulting Monitor cover story (click here) contains only a handful of intimate accounts. We could multiply them by the 7 billion inhabitants of Earth, and vast amounts of news still would be overlooked. Each individual wakes and works, thinks, struggles, hopes, and loves for perhaps 16 hours a day, and each hour can bring hundreds of insights and encounters. Only the tiniest, most contentious fraction of what happens on this planet gets recorded.

Ever thought about what it would be like to have a close friend whose village was just attacked by a drone? The attack made headlines – not very big ones, 12 years into the war on terror – but then there was the aftermath, the shaken confidence, the vivid memory, the hours Adam Baron spent comforting and talking with his Yemeni friend before the trauma slowly submerged.


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