Thursday, February 14, 2008
Time to Learn More
The elections this year are very interesting. Unfortunately, it is making me uncomfortably aware of how little I really understand about some of the issues. And since not knowing prompts one to learn and thinking you know is static..I don't think that this is a bad thing in every way.
I watched a little clip the other night, prepared by a reporter from the Rolling Stone who did a story on how the press recieves information on the debates. They go into a room with a TV screen and watch and then they talk to PR people from the campaigns. The PR people thrown out little slogans and the journalists write them down and write an article based on this. Then the stories start coming out and they are often uniform articles written by people who don't really have an strong understanding, whether it's through their own fault or it's just because of the process, But it reminded me of kids in school who go to class unprepared and then copy the answers from each other.
Here is something else that I always notice, especially on television. They say that ageism is very entrenched in American society. Sometimes I watch these shows that seem to be staffed by young attractive reporters and they will make comments about the past with these self-assured tones and I wonder to myself....how do they know? They weren't born. They had to have read it, did they learn it through some sort of required reading while they were in college? And if so, whose opinion is it, really? And please, I'm not knocking young people, we all offer a perspecive that is important. I don't think that the perspecive of the young or the older should be discounted.
I love Lisa Ling (though she is a different type of reporter than what I am talking about) when she reports she does it in a way that you feel that she is exploring life, trying to understand things, on a journey to obtain mature perspective, she never acts like she already knows it all and this is how it should be. Even older people should not lose that quality. If older people had opportunites to be something besides conservative pundits, how would perspectives differ? It is a mistake to discount older people, even if you don't disagree with them, they still have a knowledge based on experience and that counts for a lot.
Given the nature of media, there seems to be a lot of people who strike one as parroting popular phrases that make it sound like one is well-informed in actuality, many really aren't. I'm guilty of it too, that's why I don't talk too much about politics. I hate that feeling that I am throwing out a popular catch-phrase to hide the fact that I don't really understand this obscurity at all, I'd rather not say anything at all. The only things that I feel comfortable talking about and don't feel like a phoney talking about are things that I saw myself or things that I have made a genuine and deep effort to analyze. I always intend to correct the gaps in my knowledge by finding out more and then I get distracted by something else that I am interested in and I leave it. But the elections have inspired me to learn more and what I have learned has only given me more questions, which as I said is not bad.
Last night I spent some time on the internet reading Noam Chomsky, I've meant to do this for a long time and never have and he made a comment about NPR that I found interesting. He seemed to consider NPR as one-sided as say.....Mike Savage. He was very cutting. He made a comment to the effect that wealthy people who graduate from Ivy League universites are completely out-of-touch and elitist. This is also what conservatives always say and I found this interesting for of course, Noam Chomsky is about as liberal as they come. He also said that Obama thinks that the truth lies somewhere between conservative talk radio and NPR. I'm not sure what this means. Does this mean that Obama is centrist? Or does it mean that NPR is not genuinely liberal, that it misses the point because it stands above and apart from real-life observing from an anthropoligical viewpoint instead of participating in it? Or both?
I also found this disturbing because I've considered NPR a good source of news and I'm not sure what I think of what he said but it gave me something to mull over. Ultimatley, I think he is right in his belief that we need the voices of people who have lived it as well as those who are removed from it. We need people who have made an effort to cogently form an idealogy that doesn't come entirely from books...we need another Studs Terkel.
Another thing that this made me think about is you know, even reading Chomskey gave me the feeling that I was recieving someone elses pre-digested ideas. I suppose there is no other way to understand history you have to read the ideas and perspectives of another person if you weren't alive then, it's inescapable, it takes a great effort to be truly informed and I'm not sure that very many people can achieve it though some come closer than others.
Well, I'm trailing off.......without any conclusions and I think that is good....we should always be asking questions, we should never stop, none of us, young and old...that's how we learn. We value people who seem to give us answers but we shouldn't, the searching for answers is what is the most valuable. I think I'm going to write more about these things.