If you read a news report summarizing the challenges at Pine Ridge you might well conclude that the situation is overwhelming. According to the well-regarded nonprofit Re-Member:
• The unemployment rate at Pine Ridge is 89 percent.
• The poverty rate is 54 percent.
• The high school dropout rate is over 70 percent.
• And 85 percent of families are affected by alcoholism.
If that dataset was all I knew about Pine Ridge, the challenges there would seem insurmountable. But I have been to Pine Ridge and I know the people who work at Re-Member. While the statistics are daunting, Pine Ridge in real life is a place filled with love, kindness, creativity, resilience, and inspiration. Make no mistake—there is sustained hardship and suffering, but there is also transcendence and triumph. Pine Ridge visited in person is a hopeful, energizing, and welcoming place.
Our 24/7 news coverage coupled with the seemingly infinite cacophony of social media can distort our view of the world. On most days, and in most places, life is more enjoyable and manageable than it appears on a screen.
As a child our television antenna connected my home to four stations. Each station broadcast thirty minutes of nightly national news. There was no Internet. Yet the adults of that generation were educated and engaged. Nonstop news does not enhance understanding; it distorts it.
The world in real life is a more hopeful place than it appears when condensed into sound bites and processed incessantly through a screen.