I recently spent a few weeks in the United States. In addition to the layovers in various airports and free breakfasts in a few hotels where the station selection seems to be limited to FOX News or CNN, I was lucky enough to get to stay in an open bay barracks and walk each day to a chow hall with the same informational selection. So, let’s see what I learned from my temporary inundation with U.S. international news. Out of all that is going on in the world, let’s see what the best news outlets in the world thought worth reporting…

Well, apparently the President had an affair with someone, or at least someone said that the President had an affair with her. In addition to seemingly being the top story on both outlets, I was lucky enough to watch two commentators discuss the importance of the topic. After debating the very probable affair for a very long 5 minutes with any disagreement barely controlled by a moderator, one of the commentators stated that the economy was more important a topic before returning to the issue at hand for the remainder of the program.

Soo, what else was going on last week. I think I remember something about a sports tournament. I learned that the teams and fans of the teams that won were happy and the teams and the fans of the teams that lost were sad. Not missing an opportunity to have an entertaining debate, commentators were invited to discuss whether or not it was OK to show the sad team members or their sad fans. I guess somehow, though its OK to show happy people, showing sad people publicly displaying their sadness might be an invasion of privacy.

I think there was more worth not remembering, but through the cycle of not-important semi-news, fluff, and tragedy there was little worth a moments consideration. Of course, there were also commercials encouraging the purchase of items every bit as necessary and essential as the news that they were sponsoring. The ads just added to the noise, but we will save that topic for later or not at all. I will just say that we should all pay more attention to what we pay attention to.

What happened to just reporting the news? If I were to voluntarily watch the news, I would want to see it being reported accurately without agenda. I would want the providers of the news to respect me enough to draw my own conclusions from the facts, not to provide me with an opinion or to entertain me by providing two opinions and a moderator.

We really don’t get much time here. If we are lucky we get to spend that time with people we care about and, hopefully, get a chance to help them and others. I guess it could be essential to have some idea of what is going on in the world. But, the best way to do that may be to live in the world and to listen rather than to inundate yourself with another’s opinion, distraction, and noise.

I guess it all takes me back to the “Serenity Prayer” by Niebuhr.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I’m pretty sure I cannot change whether or not the President had an affair, or the wrong team won a game, but I’m pretty sure neither of these things is going to affect my ability to live my life and, hopefully, care for others.

Maybe we should all just turn the TV off for a while. And, maybe we should find something better to read than this.

We should all pay more attention to what we pay attention to. (Yup, I like that even with the preposition there.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

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