Are We Serious?

A few days ago all the news was about Iran. Today all the news is about Michael Jackson. “Shock and Grief Over Jackson’s Death,” says the New York Times. Thank God we can move on from all that foreign news, and slip into something more comfortable.
Even while Iran held the headlines, half the discussion revolved around whether Obama’s soundbites sounded tough enough. Tom Friedman had an interesting column in the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/opinion/24friedman.html?_r=1). He pointed out that if we really wanted to pressure the Iranian government we would quit our addiction to imported oil.  But that would cost us something. It’s easier to make huffing and puffing noises.
It’s always been easier to treat politics as entertainment than to grapple with serious issues and to make hard choices. But right now, our national ability to avoid confronting unpleasant realities seems to have reached a new high. Health care, anyone?

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8 Responses to “Are We Serious?”

  1. shizumataka Says:

    Thats exactly what i said…

    I mean, I enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music as much as the next person but he wasn’t trying to get us out of our bad economy (not saying he should have tried either. lol) … It just seems that people would rather focus on a celebrity that only affects them indirectly then something that could have a devastating affect on them directly.

  2. Stuart Says:

    It’s easy to be cynical about politics, as well as our ability to influence affairs in other countries. But i’ve followed a lot of the technical and some of the economic issues of alternative energy, and it’s not as easy as “just say no to oil”. There are many, and good, reasons that we have not stopped our “addiction” to oil, and oil will be one of our main energy sources for decades to come no matter the politics. Alternatives to oil: Coal? We already burn a lot of coal (from our own reserves, not imported), and it’s a contributor to climate change just like burning oil is. Windpower? Do you want windmills spoiling scenic ocean vistas and/or killing huge numbers of birds (several localities have already protested, and while there are fixes they can be expensive). But even if you decided that’s a small price to pay for windpower, how do you use windpower to propel cars — oh, yeh, batteries? Nuclear? (Need i say more?) And if we all switch to hybrids, it looks like only China makes the necessary batteries in enough quantities. How ironic to switch from oil and sending money to the mid-east only to switch to some other technology that sends money to China!!

    But in fact, the top oil exporters to the US are Canada (which supplies us with more oil than any other country), then Mexico, then Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria. We import very little oil from Iraq and none from Iran (these statistics can be found on the Energy Information Administration webpage and other places too).

    This also presumes Iran can be pressured by us. Sanctions are already in place, and the Iranian gov’t is rounding up protestors as “foreign agitators”. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart noted that much of the US reaction to Iran’s demonstrations was “it’s all about us”. Yes, by all means lets threaten Iran and give them yet more reason to forcibly restrain protets because “it’s all foreign attempts to destroy the Islamic Republic”. I am on the side of the protestors, but realistically i believe the options avaible to the US government (or any government) are limited in this case.

    • timstafford Says:

      Yes, all these questions are serious. And difficult. But our mourning over a pop singer who we didn’t know and whom we haven’t listened to in years…. is that serious? I don’t think so.

  3. jun Says:

    I somehow have a feeling of “de javu” on the death of Michael Jackson and all the hype that it generates.

    Yesterday, I realized why. His funeral is being compared to that of Princess Diana, whose funeral somehow overlaps and “diminished” that of Mother Theresa. Perhaps these funerals highlight 2 kinds of worlds we now have– A world thats turned to itself and a world thats turned to God. The latter perhaps is the “serious” of the two, but for me is the most joyful.

    • timstafford Says:

      An interesting reminder. What was the Princess Di phenomenon all about? And what does celebrity do for us/mean to us? Apparently, a lot.

  4. Bill Reichert Says:

    A certain amount of frivolousness is normal in society, as it is in individual lives. The public adulation of Michael Jackson is more than a little ironic, in that Jackson was virtually passe in the days before his death. But to read the papers, or to view the news, since his death, you’d think that one of the great figures of the last century had passed on. I wanted to gag. But the bigger issue is that the MSM seem to play along with this much more so than in the past. Perhaps it’s the need of the MSM to hold on to its audience in a time of change: no opportunity now exists to maintain even the slightest trace of dignity or decorum.

    My own defense to this was to respond to any question or statement involving Jackson with a look of mild bewilderment and a quiet, “Michael who?” 😉

  5. Bill Reichert Says:

    I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama, and still wouldn’t, had I the opportunity to “do over,” but Brooks has a point. I’ve often noted a certain air of dignity in many of the black men I know. Having been stripped of their dignity so often in American history, black men perhaps prize this trait more than most. Even rap stars seem to regard been “dissed” as a mortal offense. One can only hope that the sheer emotionalism rampant in America today will run its course and lead to more circumspection. If Mr. Obama is the instrument of this change, well then, God bless ’em!

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