There is information delivered to us in bright red packages covered with glitter which, when opened, leaves us with a ‘is that all there is?’ response. I still can’t get over how much ‘news’ is not really news.
We have craftily combined a free enterprise strategy with the delivery of essential information and that strategy distorts and amplifies so that we have to be very careful how we take in what we take in. Two non-news items this week qualify – Mitt Romney’s high school bullying and Barack Obama’s view on gay marriage.
“WHAT!?” “Are you kidding me?” several male friends protested when I, casually I thought, made that remark over coffee last week. “Get your head out of the sand! Obama’s views on gays are a critical indicator of where he wants to take this country. Not only is he a socialist he wants to completely gut the moral center of our heritage!” said one.
And so the spirited dialogue began. A modest and humble friend, an accountant by trade, chimed in. “Obama’s simply letting everyone know that he stands against bigotry in all its forms. My question is ‘would he, were he not president, vote for a Mormon?”
“The real issue with Romney,” said an ex football coach, “is his history of indifference to small people. His bullying may have happened a hundred years ago but his political views still support a cynical disregard for the powerless and vulnerable ones.”
Non-news becomes a lead in to the concerns we all have and can open to real dialogue. But, it often doesn’t do that because few of us are taking the time for serious discussion of the issues underlying the bright red package in which the news arrived.
I sat in the audience as my daughter’s eighth grade class presented their year end projects. There were presentations on homelessness, rock climbing, graffiti art, women conductors (and the absence of them), script writing, modern dance and more. These future leaders were genuine, well informed, and passionate. I’d like to think that the adults they listen to could help them think through the issues that will shape their lives in future years.
To do that we all could help by discarding the ‘packaging’ of the news, turning down the volume of our response and exploring the underlying beliefs and philosophies that make the issues raised important.
Healthy families embrace conflict while eliminating the drama.
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