Truths & Connecting Dots

Don’t tell me, let me guess:

Guns don’t kill, people do.

In this most recent case, 25 miles from Columbine.

Two of the 114 truths in my book ‘What I Really Think - The Deep End Chapters”(link) are:

#3 (page 7) - ‘We forsake opportunities to learn from the past, so we repeat them.‘  I wrote:

“A very interesting thing happens when you get into your 50s.  It really starts to kick in that many life events start repeating themselves.  History indeed is on a circular path.  You start to ‘cycle through‘ another war, another Enron financial debacle, mining disaster, salmonella outbreak or yet a new recession.  We recycle the ‘preventable‘ accident, and we’re shocked all over again when there’s another shooting at a school.  It happens over and over again.”


#21 (page 42) - ‘Never underestimate the power bloc of the Stupids.‘   I wrote:

“I take a contrarian point of view when politicos and talking heads on the news shows advise us not to underestimate the intelligence of the electorate.  When I look at the political scene in the United States, I see how easily leaders can instill unbridled fear and anger in uninformed people on complicated issues.  And to add fuel to the fires, large ‘nations’ of people get easily sucked into the broadcast trap set by personalities intent on profiting from the fishing frenzy of hatred and vitriol.  Once a lot of people get consumed by fear, and it becomes part of the lexicon, all hell breaks loose, and once-thoughtful people starting saying and doing things that are, in a word, stupid.  In addition, they start to rationalize and protect their stupidity by denigrating intelligence.”

I am so tired of these shootings happening over and over again, I’m numb.  And of hearing politicians piously proclaim we should ensure it never happens again.   It’s not in God’s hands, the guns are in our hands.  

I am now going to try to connect some dots, sort of a one-degree-of-separation exercise, with some things that have been percolating for me the last couple of weeks.  I rarely do this on my blog; I spent years writing my books, finishing them with a tremendous sense of satisfaction that I was sort of ‘done’ with figuring out all conditions human!  I continue to have enormous comfort that I’m able to go back to my ‘truths‘ as my base whenever almost anything comes up that needs processing.  Yes, it’s sort of ‘been there, done that’, and it’s a new added dimension to my journey these days.  But now I wish to revisit some of these truths and try to tie a couple together.  

I have recently watched back to back the first four episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s newest project, ‘The Newsroom’(link).  I have always been a huge fan of his, particularly ‘West Wing.’

The show features an ensemble cast with the actor Jeff Daniels as a Republican-registered, main anchor Will McAvoy of a fictional cable news network, Atlantis Cable News (ACN).  The network tries to put the truth in the ‘center’, and go from there, an obvious departure from certain existing cable networks primal mission to twist facts and worse yet, make them up, in an attempt to get ratings and impact political outcomes.  Watching episode #4 last night, in which part of the ACN broadcast reported on the ‘lie‘ that the far right promoted that President Obama in his first two years of office actively sought to pursue pro-gun control, was particularly powerful in light of recent events.

Which brings me to another point that’s been bugging me in recent months, speaking of news anchors.  I have long been a fan of NBC Nightly News.  For years I watched Tom Brokaw as my go-to news guy, followed by Brian Williams.  But Brian is starting to piss me off.

Obviously, reporting on weather, to include the fires that are related to it, must score high with focus groups and ratings, because Brian Williams leads with it constantly.  And  there is an obvious uptick in recent years in the severity of storms and meteorological events and the havoc that ensues, to include record-setting drought, flooding, high winds, you name it.

I was in Rome last Saturday and while walking around the city came across this chart outside a building with a sign indicating that it was part of some government department tied to meteorology.  I see charts like this all the time in the weather section of The New York Times by city, and I’ve seen the glaciers melting  in Montana and in Alaska, but there was something about seeing it far away from home that jarred me, if only a record of four days; it didn’t matter:

The facts are that the world is getting warmer, causing both higher highs, higher lows, and sometimes lower lows.  If you don’t think the world is getting warmer, then in the 1970’s you didn’t think smoking caused lung cancer.  Or that countries that have a lot of guns have a much higher rate of shootings.  This is called being a science or truth denialist.  It involves denying science or truths until the avalanche of evidence is so overwhelming that you are forced to accept it or them.

So, to connect the dots, for me anyway:  Oh, how I long for more Will McVoys to run news shows and for more elected officials that embrace truth and science.  Our moral compass on gun control and climate change would take us on such a different path than the one we are collectively on now.

And the next time Brian Williams reports on fires in Colorado or drought in Kansas and asks Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, incredulously, “Jim, what’s happening out there,”  I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing recently, yell back to the screen:  “Brian, for God sakes, can you hear yourself?    It’s called climate change”!