It's a big world out there.
Like many Americans, I wake to the sound of the radio. I
eschew anything too loud and too strident, opting mostly for
NPR or a classical station, most of which seem to be NPR affiliates
This week I have been traveling and one morning woke to the
distinctive twang of President George W. Bush. He was making
a speech about the wonders of his Presidency to a Republican
crowd somewhere deep in America. His words were punctuated
by deep applause mixed with the occasional cheer.
He sounded credible and impressive.
On the cover of USA Today on Thursday there were equally
impressive photos of the two candidates, Bush and Kerry, saluting.
It appears, according to the poll in the paper, that an equal
number of Americans [61%] believe each man is qualified to
There is some statement being made right now by the fact
that Kerry is outpacing Bush in the fundraising horse race.
It is interesting to note, also, that Kerry's cash is coming
from internet donations. It might be assumed that Republicans
are less technologically savvy.
And while both candidates are out stumping the country laying
claim to the military mantle, Moveon.org has declared Fox
News the Pravda of the Republicans. Certainly a bit of a stretch
but an amusing one. It is hard for me to imagine Rupert Murdoch
as a Commissar though not hard to accept that his News Channel
is conservatively oriented.
In fact, the New York Post, which is the News Corp. paper
[Rupert Murdoch's parent corporation] in New York, is unremittingly
conservative, finding every excuse to make fun of liberals
- except in its gossip columnists, who tend to liberalism.
We are humans and, as human beings, our feelings enter into
everything we do and every statement we make. It is virtually
impossible to be absolutely impartial in this universe though
it is my hope that as we read things or see things we understand
that no one is absolutely impartial. And that we take that
into account as we read.
Occasionally I despair of that -- as I did listening to call
in radio shows as I traveled. Iconoclastic individuals are
taking absolute positions on political questions - not that
they haven't since the beginning of time. It is just that
now, this election cycle, I am stubbornly hopeful that people
will open their minds and get beyond iconoclastic beliefs
and judge events for what they are.
However, they will see what they see - and what they see
will be based on their personal experiences.
Of all the news services, the one I must admit I admire the
most is the venerable, monolithic and determinedly British
Beeb, the BBC.
This week, while I watched American networks, everything
was focused on Iraq, the political campaign, and the 9/11
Commission. It was from the BBC that I learned there was a
huge crisis going on in the Sudan - not mentioned by any American
network that I know of, but still happening. It is a reality
not covered by anyone else I know but very real and absolutely
desperate. And, as far as I can tell, completely ignored by
The thing I love about the BBC is that it focuses on stories
that are important but that no one else is talking about -
that I know of. Like the Sudanese starvation situation.
For the most part, American news services are disappointing
if one has a global perspective, disappointing if you have
traveled the world and understand that the world is so much
larger than the United States.
Personal perspective: we need to see ourselves as part of
the planet not as the center of the universe.
In what seems to be becoming depressingly repetitive, I have
experienced another loss this week. Betty Elsen, the mother
of my best friend when I was much younger [he died in an automobile
accident] passed away this week. She was an enormous character,
brilliantly full of life, vitality and intelligence. She was
a local legend and considered a force of nature. She was quick
to laugh and generous to a fault. God's rest. Say hello to
Jeff for me.