“e pluribus unum” (Latin) “Out of many we are one”
These are, as the saying goes, interesting times. Here at newspaper world there’s a tinge to it that comes with the blessing (“blessing”) of Email. With every turn of the screw you have a couple hundred entities which want to make sure you understand (a) something happened and then (b) they have an opinion on it.
And national news has certainly given those poor hacks something to chop out, repeatedly, in recent weeks. Well, good for them. It’s always nice to see someone making a living typing, especially when they’re typing news and column-length insights into news.
And then there’s the second tide that washes in during these events, post the initial news and the initial opinion, and it is the analysis of the opinion of the news. I don’t read ‘em all word-for-word, granted, first of all I have to eat sometime, plus here in Van Buren County there’s usually something for a plucky reporter to go report on more important than the pontifications of some distant typing suit, but I skim, I at least skim them. All of this, all of this washing in on event’s tide gets at least some inspection.
Others follow, those reacting to the reacting, the point and counterpoint. But let’s not belabor all his, we’ve got places to be and you’ve got the picture by now. Although sometimes I have a picture that somewhere somebody’s typing up a response to the Rough Riders making it up San Juan Hill. This ping-pong analysis game just wears you out after a while.
Anyway, recent events in the national news have put a strain on the inbox, certainly. And I’m not going to say who’s right and who’s wrong. This isn’t that kind of paper. I’m just one guy out here and taking political sides in the end makes me suspect. I’d hate to be suspect. But there is the reoccurring theme going on here, that it’s always these people versus those people.
It’s usually political parties, in this analysi ping-pong, sometimes it’s socio-economic strata, haves and have-nots, that kind of thing, and mostly it’s, in this endless analysis, how these people are faring in their battle against those people.
There’s a reason for this, this kind of coverage. It’s, most important, cheap and easy. “This guy’s happy and that guy’s sad” doesn’t exactly take a newsroom staff to write up. Also, and more to the point, it’s quickly digestible. If you can break these issues down to - in effect - sports scores than the reader or viewer (that’s you and me) can make a quick synopsis and go on to be distracted by the next shiny object. Best, if you identify with Team X or Y, then you’re more likely to tune in for the next report which analyzes why your team is right and their team is wrong. So you “sold” in effect, the story (the score) and you sell the analysis (the post game). With that it’s easy predict your audience, so it’s easy to sell to advertisers, then profit.
But you’re not about that (and good for you). You’re the sort of person who reads an editor’s column in a weekly county paper, and thank you, always thank you. And because you’re that person then this next part pretty much goes without saying: It’s not us and them, that’s a mistake it’s “We.” It’s us, all of us.
And let me suggest, as we dig into this, that it’s us all over the country. So we’ve got this, I don’t know, “stuff,” going on in Washington. And we got people and some are happy and some are sad and some are pointing fingers and some are asking - event telling - you to get on Team X or Y and … hang on a minute. What’s right for us, all of us? And when I say “us,” let me be clear: Even the people we normally wouldn’t hang out with. Everybody in the country, heck, go bigger, in the world, all of us.
All of us in Van Buren County, in its cities, its towns, its hollers. I’m thinking we’re smart enough, people like us, to not get sucked in by the sports metaphor, maybe reach outside ourselves, try to understand why the other guy - who would otherwise be on the other team - is acting like that, saying those things.
I’m not saying tomorrow we become Disneyland, that everything’s hope and magic and blue skies. But I am saying you and me have a, well, a duty to make sure not to create less of the hope and magic, or to make the skies darker. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m saying we need to work toward the center instead of against each other.