Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Joan Collins

Yesterday our local paper published a condensed version of my blog "Unhappy Anniversary" as a column titled Voice of the Day. Today they published one written by a friend and colleague from the Peace Network of the Ozarks. It was written in response to a headline the paper ran a week or so ago about what they headlined as the agony of a sports fan over the local university basketball team's failure to make the NCAA tournament. It is such a fine peace that I decided to share it with you here, but first, let me tell you a little about Joan Collins.

She is retired from a career as a professor of English at what is now called Missouri State University. She can't be classified as a spring chicken, but I've never known anyone with more energy and more focus. Back when Bush was just rattling his sabers about Iraq, she took to the streets, organized the Peace Network of the Ozarks and has been its primary spark plug ever since. Along with the work she does on another board or two to maintain the arts and hold forth some sense of sanity for the rest of the community to try and grasp, she has been the primary spark plug for PNO every step of the way. I've known more than a few really fine people in my day, but I have to put Joan at the top of the list. She has my admiration, my respect, and my love as a friend, and I hope you appreciate the quality of her sentiments as expressed here as much as I do:

"I don't know what planet the News-Leader crew inhabits, but on my planet, the phrase "unbearable agony" is the kind of reactionary hyperbole that muddies up what should be a clear distinction between meaningful, necessary news and variations of infotainment. A fan's reaction to a basketball team's tournament exclusion fails to qualify as "agony" unbearable or otherwise. Our illegal, immoral, unaffordable, and impeachment-worthy war, however, certainly fits the bill.

The huge headlines and bright pictures of a distressed young man headlining the March 12 front page could have been abut the implications of his decision just dawning on a freshly recruited Army volunteer. Unable to afford the education now essential to a decent career in America, this young man chose to accept the $40,000 signing bribe recruiters promised if he'd go to war, leaving his "sanctity for human life" principles in the rhetorical Dumpster. Exploiting those among us with the least, to do the most – now that's what should b e considered "unbearable".

On my planet, the worried faces could also reflect concern for wounded but intact soldiers forced to navigate a bureaucratic maze in search of miserly "benefits" that would not support an aging poodle. If this "unbearable agony" story were about our country's 30,000 wounded or our 117,000 severely traumatized, then the headline would fit the crime. To me, however, that headline reveals a disconnect between the world of human suffering that truly matters and the world of points in the paint that doesn't.

Let's consider how our planet, today, is "unbearable" in ways that subject innocent people to unnecessary "agony". We're enriching corporations that feed off of war, alienating the world, neglecting the poor, ignoring education, and bankrupting our childrens' futures as we empower terrorism, laying the foundation for the now inevitably more dangerous world which Bush can claim as his legacy. Perhaps if the media would just bare the truth about the real "unbearable agony", we'd be sufficiently horrified to throw off the tyranny of perpetual war and the shackles of deceptive propaganda.

Before we blow this planet to smithereens, I'd like to see some baring of our real problems, one of which is not missing out on March Madness. How about the madness of King George. But that's not a problem. It's a catastrophe." Joan Collins, Peace Network of the Ozarks

Thank you, Joan. Would that the paper would pay real heed to what she says and quit printing the pap the Administration generates and calling it news.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – M. K. Gandhi

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