Sunday, October 20, 2019

Do me a favor...

This may sound strange coming from a guy with a TV camera permanently affixed to his shoulder, but do me a favor and TURN OFF THE NEWS. No, not the local stuff - the folks who work on that live in your community and, contrary to popular belief, often care about it. No, I’m talking about those other broadcasts, the ones that don’t even pretend to be neutral, the ones that wallow in boosterism, the ones that ruin family gatherings.

You know, Cable News.   

Now, before you label me a heretic (I’ll wait for all you haters out there to look that word up), hear me out: I’m talking ALL Cable News. CNN, FOX, MSNBC - whatever combination of capital letters makes you hate your fellow American. Turn. That. Shit. Off. You’ll be happier when you do, not to mention just as  informed about the world as you would be if you depended on some blown-dried anchor to assure you opinion is the only correct one.

I know quite a few blown-dried anchors. Some are dear friends. Some are nuttier than squirrel turds. When it comes to forming important opinions, you’d do just as well to consult that PTA President you know, or even that kooky neighbor who blows their grass clippings onto your driveway. 

Okay, now that our TV is off (remember, turn it back on for the LOCAL news. There’s a story coming up featuring a dog in a funny hat that you will NOT wanna miss), do me another favor. Get in your car, drive to a neighborhood nothing like yours, park it, get out and strike up a friendly conversation with someone who looks different than you. It’s okay, they’re not gonna rip your eye-lids off, no matter what your favorite pundit has told you. In fact, they may turn out to be the kind of person you really like, despite the fact that their hair, clothes or skin isn’t what you’d be comfortable wearing. If you’re not careful, you might even find yourself nodding in agreement over some universal truism. (It’s okay, I won’t tell your friends in whatever echo chamber you call home.) Of course, some of the things these strangers say will strongly contradict your world view, but that’s fine. In fact, I  have it on good authority that that’s supposed to be way our country works.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember when Republican and Democrat were opposite sides of an American coin, not two warring factions that couldn’t wait to roll a grenade into each other’s villages. How we got to where we are is something our robotic overlords, er, history books will one day have to decide. Me, I’m just worried about survival. Mine, my children and this nation that’s been so very good to all of us. This country, this sprawling, scary, schizophrenic country is all we Americans got and it deserves better than to be destroyed in the name of partisan politics. Say you wake up next November to find your side won. That neighbor with the grass clippings who’s sure YOU’RE the one who’s nuts will still be there. Or will you set his house on fire for thinking differently than you? Asking for a friend…

Thanks for reading this. I don’t expect it to change any minds. But it’s been on my mind lately, largely due to social media. What a wonder social media is. Several times a day, I glance at my phone and stare slack-jawed at what one of my ‘friends’ posted. ‘How can they believe THAT?’, I ask myself, but no one ever answers. All I can come up with is that they’ve surrounded themselves with only like-minded folk, that they subsist on a media diet consisting of nothing but the kind of lies and distortions that pleases their particular palate. 

As for me, I’m just a simple cameraman. For nearly three decades I’ve dropped in on every kind of person there was and somehow convinced them to be on television. It hasn’t made me any smarter than you, but it has widened my worldview and taught me that no one side is completely correct. If a guy who drives around with a tripod in his trunk can figure that out, surely the rest of you can.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this piece about the dog in the funny hat ain’t gonna write itself.