It's easy to feel that way sometimes, especially with news stories about a woman dismembering her stepdaughter; about high school students being held hostage; about audience members at a speech by Bill Nye the Science Guy choosing to take pictures rather than help when he collapsed.
But then I remembered part of an interview I heard last week with former monk Thupten Jinpa. Jinpa, the Dalai Lama's chief English translator, was talking about what happens when ancient tradition meets the modern world.
When he was asked about the media and sensational news stories, he said the Dalai Lama believes that acts of affection, of love and caring, don't make headlines because people are essentially good, so we take goodness for granted. We expect those types of behavior -- being decent toward each other -- to be normal.
"Killing and violence make headlines because we don't expect normal people to behave in that manner. When they do, we are shocked," said Jinpa. "But we let ourselves be driven by headline news, and the sad byproduct of that is that people become cynical, thinking, 'Oh, we're such a horrible species.'"
For every sad story we read about thieves making off with the presents under some family's tree, there are good people -- often total strangers -- who will materialize to make certain the victimized family still enjoys a good Christmas.
For every church that's vandalized, there's a volunteer crew organizing to rebuild.
For every roast swiped from a cart, there's a kindhearted person like Sue, who allows it to be taken without stooping to that woman's level.
The public often doesn't learn about the good that results after bad because those stories aren't newsworthy. There needs to be a sensational element for it to be news, and good people doing good deeds -- that's still normal.
I used to think "normal" was just another cycle on the washing machine, but I'm determined to try and do as Thupten Jinpa suggested: Watch for signs of people behaving normally, and appreciate those times when it shows.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.