When the global pandemic was first declared, some thought leaders gave credence to the idea that the common enemy of disease might bring our country and world together.
Dr. Andy Ward, a psychologist from Georgia, said it this way, “At no other point in history has the entire world experienced the same thing at the same time all fueled by media 24/7.”
I shared the same hope. Perhaps our common frailty would bring us together.
I’m losing that hope.
In fact, I continue to be troubled by the demoralizing and confusing array of stories in the media that highlight whatever political agenda the author or media group is seeking to promote.
There’s plenty of presidential bashing. Plenty of presidential barbs tweeted out, too. Do some take glee in a faltering economy for what it might mean for election results? Others seem to revel in a Biden campaign misstep.
News seems to be everywhere—even popping up in your social media feed whether you want it or not. But is it even really news?
A Sad Day of “News”
Often I toggle back and forth between CNN and Fox, typically very different views of the happenings of the day. And I’m saddened by what I’m seeing—what we sometimes call news appears to be political positioning or just name-calling back and forth.
Here’s a sampling from CNN’s April 22, 2020, website front page:
- Fact check: President Trump’s false claims from Tuesday’s coronavirus briefings
- Analysis: 11 words from John Oliver that expose Fox News’ fundamental hypocrisy
- Analysis: Fox News falls out of love with hydroxychloroquine
- Analyst calls out Dr. Birx: she shied away
- Divisions have emerged along a timeworn North vs. South divide, and hope for unity has been further undermined by Trump
The Fox News site from the same day offered its own jabs:
- ABC’s gab show ignores Biden sex claims, went all in on Kavanaugh
- Washington Post media critic asks if CNN, MSNBC will review coverage of discredited Steele dossier
- Miami Herald columnist apologizes for saying open beaches should thin the ranks of the GOP
Is this what we call news?
Author Jonathan Rogers of The Habit offers this perspective on storytelling and the public climate of our country:
“It’s as if we have given up on the idea of a just society and instead are jockeying for position closer to the top of a heap that isn’t worthy of us. We’re telling the stories we want to hear, stories that reassure us that we’re right, stories that gain and/or preserve power for people like us, even as they define “people like us” in ever-narrowing terms.”
Wisdom from Leaders of the Past
There’s no doubt that our nation has suffered a big loss—from deaths, to economic loss, to job loss, to the overall American psyche. But it’s disheartening to see that loss pulling us down instead of pulling us together. This should not be a time of one side trying to gain the upper hand. We all lose that way.
Perhaps it is time to heed the wisdom of those who have led and gone before us:
“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” – Harry S. Truman
“If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.” – Ronald Reagan
“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
“There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism.” – Alexander Hamilton
Alexis de Tocqueville warned that individualism was the Achilles’ heel of the American democratic experiment.
A bit closer to our time, Coach Boone in Remember the Titans said it this way:
“Fifty thousand men died right here on this field [Gettysburg], fighting the same fight that we’re still fighting amongst ourselves today…..You listen. Take a lesson from the dead.
“If we don’t come together, right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed—just like they were.
“I don’t care if you like each other or not. But you will respect each other.”
What about you? You and I can’t change everyone else, but each of us can choose our own course. Will you choose to move toward respect, civility and generosity once again?
Photo by Adomas Aleno on Unsplash
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Published May 13, 2020
Topics: Culture Commentary