I am almost daily dumbfounded by the arguments, the lies and the suppositions behind what passes for news. On one level, we are moved by the emotional rhetoric and the adversarial approach to what we consume in place of true news. The basic hows and whys seem to take a back seat to he said, she said “news”. Precious few stories tell us the six critical things we need to know to even make up our minds whether of not we should even care about what we are hearing. Who, what, where,when, why and how. The seventh thing that real news contains is what can be done about it. If you ever hear this kind of news, please let me know about it, because I try to stay in touch with what can be done in the way of making the world a better place for the next seven generations as well as our own.
The fourth estate is one of the critical pillars of democracy, thus the name. I’ll try to start slowly for those who didn’t pay attention in school. Our form of government, created by The Constitution, has three powers. Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, The Executive Branch and the Supreme Court. Without an engaging and engaged news source, we are adrift in stormy seas without a rudder or propulsion of any kind. The three branches need to be attended to, occasionally pruned, investigated and explained in ways that make sense to the population at large if we are to be good citizens. The free press is the only way to assure that we will have an informed populace. Most news sources have shirked the responsibility to present inspirational ideas or cogent reasons for doing anything that a government of , by and for the people might require.
The recent nauseating focus on a retired Senator from Alaska, who died in a small plane with several others on their way to a fishing trip in a remote area, proves the point. Though a tragedy for his family and perhaps some of his friends, death, in Alaska from plane crash is quite normal. 53% of all fatal plane crashes each year are in that massive state. There is nothing we can do about it and there is little to be learned other than “Don’t fly when conditions are poor and deteriorating, no matter who is on the plane.” Certainly there is nothing to be gained from knowing the fact that some survivors were wearing waders, and had a better chance of staving off hypothermia because of it. I suppose, on some level, there is the underlying message that being in a hurry to get anywhere, even away from it all, can kill you, but that is perhaps too esoteric for the average man, or is it? Why didn’t we get that message and then let it rest?
Well, the big money is on the fact that most of us don’t want to get involved, learn or find out the real story at all. It is all a distraction to keep us out of the real world. By injecting our consciousness with minutia, many of us are easily disoriented and off task. It certainly didn’t take three days to get the six salient questions answered!
The vast majority of news production relies on the lack of concern we have for useful information. Where it comes from and whose is more or less trustworthy makes no difference. I have spent hours looking into who said what and why. The things I have found might astound you. They certainly are not for the faint of heart. Well meaning people swear something to be true, because they were told by X, Y or Z who claims to be a “reputable source”. Come to find out, they are in bed with one side or another in the age old debate. Nothing real ever passed the guy’s lips, because he is a paranoid schizophrenic who sees the enemy behind every regulation he ever encountered. He also just happens to be paid by folks who abhor regulation of any kind. Trusting people or knowing who to trust is an acquired talent that borders on an art form. What helps develop this skill is to truly dig in to a few stories, take the time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Do your own due diligence and make up your own mind.
Who hasn’t confronted the conundrum that I used for the title of this entry? We will inevitably fall on a range, some influenced by our better nature, or “unbridled optimism”, others by the fallout from getting screwed so much in the past, their belief in the fiction of lack, or the “brutish nature” of humankind. Pessimists and optimists can be found ascribing to a host of opinions on every issue, just because someone points a camera, microphone or their attention toward them doesn’t make them any more reliable than anyone else. Has anyone ever asked the obvious question? Why are they always able to find two experts who are diametrically opposed on any issue no matter how esoteric? It is always funny to me that the, self-proclaimed, most “fair and unbiased” news seems to think that every issue is comprised of two sides. I guess we are finally winning the race to the bottom that we were warned about for so long. Now we get to make our minds up based on the opinions of two raving lunatics. Who do we side with, the one who raves less? Or the one who is a little more stable? To tell the truth, I often find myself leaning toward the one who is more practically dressed.
We can argue ’til the cows come home, but the point is that we all need to find truth, learn from what has come to pass up ’til now, and strike out in a direction based on reason and facts rather than emotion and rhetoric. We had folks couch any discussion about Global Climate Change, or what I prefer to call atmospheric destabilization, in the terms “Greenhouse Effect” or global warming for over twenty years. The difference in what our mind imagines between these different ways of illuminating the actual fact is profound. Greenhouses sound kind-of nice, if we warmed the earth, it would seem that things couldn’t get anything but better except for those folks who live around the middle, where it is hot already, but hey, they’re used to it right? In our limited way, we might imagine basking in the sun by a pool in December in North Ontario! Or perhaps, growing pineapples in Chicago. Can you see the glass miraculously becoming half full? Now that the chickens are coming home to roost and the polar bears are dying, glaciers are retreating and water tables are plummeting, so too the glass seems half empty.
If we change the equation, investing in a smaller glass, the argument loses it’s dubious merit, the pieces fall into place and we can begin to get traction. Perhaps what we need is a vacation from the aggressive and adversarial approach to more issues. We can all agree on things when the cameras are not rolling, perhaps focusing on the facts, just the facts would bring humanity back into the news. Many of us would be very happy about that and perhaps the wackos would have to get real jobs instead of being opinionated asses bent on proving their own special “reality” by any means necessary.