Saturday, April 12, 2008

The "Impossible" Is Waiting in the Wings

I was thinking about how much we limit ourselves by closing our minds to what we don't yet know. I'm old enough to remember Dick Tracy and his two-way wrist radio, which seemed fantastic and impossible at the time. It doesn't seem impossible now, so it wasn't impossible then, but the increments of knowledge needed to create it had not yet fallen into place.

When I was a little girl, the sound of an airplane drew us all outside to watch with excitement and awe, as it was such an unusual event. Little did we know that not too many years later, the skies would be full of planes, ever larger and more sophisticated than the little bi-plane that so impressed us.

Some time later, we climbed up into the cupola above the attic of our big old house in Geneva, Illinois, to see the Hindenburg thirty-five miles away above Chicago. There it was--the enormous dirigible, long and silver, gleaming as it seemed to float there, not moving. We were so impressed. This was the future right before our eager eyes! But, before long, the dirigible suffered its terrible demise in New Jersey while the world watched in horror, and it was part of the future no more.

When I was still a kid, my family acquired a Franklin "touring car," a convertible four-door. It was "used," but to us was a marvelous machine. How excited we were when my father took us out for a spin, and we actually reached the terrifying speed of 37 miles an hour! Surely no one would ever dare to go faster than that!

One of the great things about living through several generations, is the perspective gained by seeing inventions come and go, wars begin and end, ideas go in and out of favor. The latest inventions and the biggest fads always seem so important, but are soon replaced by something new and become humdrum, or fade into obscurity. The newest thing becomes less meaningful the longer you live. Eventually it is seen as part of a long series of things, ranging from what we have already discovered to what we will discover tomorrow.

When I was small, everything that has since been discovered was already possible then, we just hadn't found out about it yet. So it would be ridiculous for me to close my mind to new possibilities in any area of life. I don't know what may be possible in the future, but I do know that the word "impossible" may be as obsolete as the dirigible.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Integrity in a Dog-Eat-Dog World

The lack of judgment and personal responsibility that has led to the present housing debacle, as well as to the turbulence on Wall Street, have set me thinking about my own rules of integrity. What have I learned that rings true in a cosmic sense, not necessarily in a worldly sense?

I take my cue from the physician's Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." I think this is an important concept for us all, not just physicians. I can't harm others and get away with it. This has nothing to do with whether or not I get caught, it has to do with the eternal balance of the universe, which will return to me what I have given. I might not like this, but I have to admit it 's fair. It will do me no good to be clever enough to hide the way or ways in which I'm doing harm. What I do will eventually come back to me like sheep returning to the fold. It may not happen immediately, but it will happen.

Most of the things I do, or that anyone does, are preceded by thoughts, emotions, and desires that impel us to act in certain ways to get what we want. If what we want harms others, it's easy to rationalize and convince ourselves that the end justifies the means. Well, it doesn't. The eternal balance of things never stops working. I might gain temporarily, or even for a long time, and become rich, or famous, or powerful, or whatever I think it is that I want. There are examples all around me. Those who step on others to get ahead seem to thrive. It's tempting to wonder how I could ever succeed without putting myself before others to get what I want.

But somewhere in my thinking and feeling about what I want and how I will get it, there is a place where the "rubber meets the road," that spot where I know I might do harm in some way, and where I either brush it aside and go on, or where I stop and take a closer look. When I was a kid and had a chance to take something without getting caught, I had to decide whether or not to do it. Not being too clear on the concept then, I took it. This happened in grade school, and it was someone's Girl Scout dues. What happened at the Girl Scout meeting showed me how much my stealing a quarter affected the person from whom I took it.

That was how I learned that even if you don't get caught, you still haven't escaped the consequences of what you do. If it hurts someone, you are responsible for it, and have set in motion an energy that will return to you, all in good time. This must be the way the Universe teaches us to treat other people the way we would like to be treated.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is The News Really News?

The news media is driving me crazy, especially the stuff that is dished up on TV. This juggernaut known as news tramples on common sense under the guise of reporting, but most of the time that's not what they're doing--they are rehashing and speculating endlessly about the candidates, the primaries, the war, and other events happening in the world.

First, there is a nugget of news, then it is repeated, sometimes inaccurately, sometimes with parts missing or distorted, then this distortion is repeated again and again, and discussed and picked over like a turkey the week after Thanksgiving. Why doesn't somebody just report the news?

I don't want to be told what to think about the news, I want to hear it and decide for myself. I want to know what is going on in the world and not just hear over and over what TV newscasters have decided is their favorite story. Unfortunately, I often find the most interesting news on page eight or ten of the local newspaper, and it takes several days for it to get picked up and find its way into the forefront of the news presented on TV, if ever.

Sometimes a report of what someone said shows that person talking, but we can't hear what they're saying, because the reporter is telling us instead. All we can do is watch his or her lips moving while the reporter drones on and on. Talk about frustrating! I don't want to be told what someone said, I want to hear it myself.

Those in the media take stories that might have been of interest when first reported, and then they beat them to death for days and days, get talking heads together to speculate ad infinitum about the ins and outs of a subject that has already palled.

I think part of the problem is that newscasting is mostly aimed at an immature, uninformed audience, rather than at an adult, involved audience, thus ensuring that no one will ever get informed, at least not by TV news. Also, apparently it is easy to pick up and use what has already been said without having to give too much thought to its accuracy, or to how many times it has already been repeated. We get little snippets and tidbits instead of real news. Often, interesting items are caught in the rush just before going to a break.

Well, have all the breaks you want, but in between breaks, please, please give us news, and don't paraphrase it, tell us what you think about it, or what we should think about it. Just give us the news and plenty of it, and let us decide for ourselves. Please.