Friday, June 13, 2008

On Flaccid Anger

An article quoting a Spanish news service in an Indian paper reported that 60 penguins died in Uruguay after those tankers collided earlier this week.

Yesterday, a friend accused me of "flaccid anger" in these writings. When I was younger, I used to argue with him until wee hours in the morning. Now I have a search engine and the Times...

This from a 1987 article called "Nation in Decline," By Barbara W. Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winning Historian"

"The passionate interest the Gary Hart episode aroused in the public, contrasted with the flaccid reaction to lost lives and broken laws, illustrates the shallowness and frivolity of popular opinion. If the American people do not grow angry when their sons' lives are sacrificed to official negligence, or when statutes are casually violated by the caretakers of the nation's security, one cannot expect any change to a steadier Government that commands more respect. Anger when anger is due is necessary for self respect and for the respect of our nation by others.

What has become of American wits? What has become of the America of Washington, Adams and Jefferson? What has become of national self respect, not to mention common decency? (Perhaps the last should be left out of the discussion, because common decency is not considered to be a necessary component of realpolitik in foreign affairs.) To raise the level of public understanding from frivolity to a readiness to take serious things seriously will require a great and concerted national effort - if, like the problem of controlling AIDS, we can figure out how it may be done. Until it is, we shall not soon retrieve coherent national policy or the rule of law."

When I write this blog, I am often torn. My goal is to learn something new every day -- and I don't stop until I do... I think my understanding of the issues and the world has changed enormously over the last 6 months -- honestly, I think the facts speak for themselves. It's about oil -- it's about communication -- life -- my life -- ours...

60 penguins is a lot of penguins. I'm intrigued by the international communication tool. I'm intrigued by who wants to know this fact about birds and who doesn't.

I'm not really interested in talking about how I think -- though I do too much (am right now) -- The truth seems clear enough for me. Some weeks, I prefer the weeks when I'm more poet than journalist. Some weeks I prefer more journalist than poet. It's all very complex and I don't believe in judgment and I don't know what's going to happen. Of course there is no such thing as an impartial observer -- all of our filters and our pores move against that ideal. I don't know what's right -- I don't know what I want to happen.

The places we get to are far more complex than one could ever imagine -- or imagine a way out of.

Michael Franti says in a song lyric about music and politics, "to rhyming without a real reason is to claim but not to practice a religion."

But I am not an activist. The role of activist is different that documentarian.

The best that any journalist or artist can do is notice some bit of reality and frame it...

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