Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Madpriest points out today that broadcast coverage of an apparent accident where a small plane crashed into an apartment building in New York and two people were killed has taken precedent over a misguided war in which 650,000 people have lost their lives. Hours of live coverage of smoke, the fire was put out quickly, have shifted our minds from the seemingly impossible task of creating a democracy in a country where blood wars are prevalent and compromise is increasingly unlikely. But, we are all tired of the war, tired of hearing about bombings and bloodshed and death. Even a major pile-up on the highway could have distracted us from a war that is insane.

Our individual and collective attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I don’t read stories about the war in Iraq any longer. I try to forget that the war in Afghanistan is ongoing. And, I really don’t want to know about Darfur, human slavery, abduction of young girls, and how many people were killed in a mudslide someplace in the South Pacific. That’s all very depressing. I want to be happy and have fun and enjoy life. I’m entitled; after all, I’m a white female American.

Maybe not. No matter how deep I bury my head in the sand, the voices of the dead and dying cry out for mercy and peace. The hungry stomachs rumble like thunder while I laugh about Mom’s saying I should eat my peas because there were starving children in Africa. Well, starving children and adults are still in Africa, and I ate my peas. What do I do now?

Mother Teresa said that love begins with one person, but how can we concentrate on loving even one person when we are besieged with the injustice, violence and degradation of the world. When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember you came to drain the swamp. That’s an old saying from my childhood, not that I would want to drain the swamp, appropriately called wetlands now. How can we concentrate on feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and comforting the dying, when newspapers, magazines, television, internet news and blogs all are discussing the various horrors of the world?

So, periodically, I take a break from it all. I don’t read the newspapers, not even the comics (which I now get online). I never have watched much television. I don’t turn on the radio. But, I never expected to find an article about Iraq in my latest copy of Vogue. I didn’t read it. I kept looking at the glamorous people and their beautiful clothes and jewelry. Even though I didn’t read the article, the fact of its being there has me agonizing over the stupidity of violence and greed.

I write letters and make my concerns known to those in power, and little comes of it. I will vote in this election and all elections because that’s one way I do have a voice. But, one person’s letters, voting and prayers don’t seem to do much good. I’ve diversified my retirement funds so that I’m not supporting those who seem to be grabbing for power or those that harm the world, the people or the animals (at least as far as I know). I do what I can. But, the situation seems to escalate. Or is it just that we know more about what’s going on in the world than we did when I was younger?

We are bombarded with so many images – natural disasters, wars, rape, drugs, police cars with lights flashing, fire sirens and the images change so quickly that comprehending the first one is impossible before another is there. Juxtaposed against these images are the advertisements that ask to buy more and more expensive and luxurious products touted by the famous people of the world. And, produce placement within ads – that Coke bottle on the table of the ad for convenience food – proliferate. Now, a company in North Carolina is producing scents that will enhance the appeal of certain products to certain shoppers. Sony has customized a scent that would appeal to women so that more women will shop in their stores.

The relationship between wars, greed and violence and the American (and perhaps world) desire for MORE is readily apparent in any newscast, magazine or other media. Love is the most renewable resource in the world, but fuel oil is not. Ideas that are innovative and creative multiply, but gold does not. We all seem to want more of those in limited supply.

This is another discussion that has no good ending for me. I still want to be happy and I don’t want to hear about war and violence. On the other hand, I want everyone to have all they need and lots of what they want. What some people seem to want is my life because I am a white female American, because I do have a retirement account, because I am gay, because I am a liberal and a Christian. I can’t give them my life. I’m not that good.

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