Now is the time to concentrate all of our ability as citizens to focus on finding the truth and finding leaders who will lead.
by Bill Mehlman
"Good evening, everyone - there is good news tonight."
That was the opening line of Gabriel Heatter's news broadcast - words which raised the morale of millions of Americans every night during the depths of the Second World War. You can only imagine that it was a far less cynical age. Can you imagine listening to… let me not name names, in the interest of objectivity…anyone on the radio or television today, and finding solace or enlightenment or inspiration in their words? Maybe Alan Shore, the mercurial character so brilliantly played by James Spader on Boston Legal. But where is Murrow? Sevaried? Collingwood? Trout? Reasoner—the literate, intelligent, courageous journalists I grew up listening to?
I'll tell you where. Spinning in their damn graves.
There is no good news tonight. We have watched, mesmerized, greedy, craven—and, therefore, complicit—as our beloved nation has been brought to its knees by spineless politicians, mute clerics, compromised journalists, reptilian lobbyists and rapacious businessmen. An acquaintance of mine who has a working knowledge of finance summed up the freefall on Wall Street in three words, "Arrogance. Greed. Stupidity."
We are destitute, disspirited, unprincipled.
We are pathetic.
Someplace, I think in one of the Patrick O'Brien novels, a character speaks a line which I can only paraphrase, to the effect that "Contemplation of one's impending death has a wonderfully clarifying effect upon one's mind."
That's where we are now, regardless of whether the odious popinjays in Washington pass the bailout or not: at the edge of the abyss. Only a fool could fail to recognize that truth. All the safety nets have rotted away.
We are impaired; we are not incapacitated. Now is the time to concentrate all of our ability as citizens, to focus on finding the truth, on finding leaders who will lead, on finding courage and self-respect and on finding the intelligence to refuse to accept any more of the cheap, meretricious malarkey we're fed every day of our lives. Big Pharma, the Pentagon, Wall Street, Big Oil, the White House, even (biting the hand that feeds him) the Press—take your pick—all have the same basic business model: Making Sure That I've Got Mine.
The big issues are unmistakable: ending this crippling, immoral, impoverishing series of for-profit wars, educating our populace, bringing universal health care to our country, stopping global warming and the destruction of our oceans and strengthening the constitutionally guaranteed rights that are our most precious birthright.
Walter Cronkite, who became, by dint of his forthrightness, impartiality and intelligence,"Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America" would end his shows, "...And that's the way it is."
We need to find out how it is, what it is and why it's that way, and do something about it, right now, before it's too late. We may never regain the stature we once had among the nations of the world. So be it. Let us at the very least try to regain the stature we once had—in our own eyes—as honest men and women, as good parents, as productive workers, as citizens.