A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’m an optimist. Let me explain why. Somewhere around two and half millennia ago, the Greeks (Athenians, actually) discovered this really cool thing. They found out that Mother Nature had structured the world in such a way that everything was in balance. They realized that if there was a hot, there was a cold. If there was wet, there was dry; hard, soft; rough, smooth, etc. etc. They also discovered that Mother Nature likes it that way. Man (women weren’t included in those days) could change the balance of things, if he wanted to, but only for a little while. The resulting imbalance never lasted very long because it made Mother Nature really angry and she would move heaven and earth (literally) to make things right again. For example, the reason we have all this weirdo weather right now — rain, snow, wind, hurricanes, tornados, and on and on and on — is because Mother Nature is trying to get all the crap we’ve been putting into the air, out of it — so we can breathe. It’s that simple.
The Greeks went on to apply this curious little balancing act to people. They found out that no matter how stupid people get, there’re always one or two smart ones around to put a stop to it. This is good to know. It gives you faith in the human race. It tells you that just about the time you think the Dark Forces of Ignorance are about to finally overpower common sense and you might just as well shoot yourself in the head — don’t do it. Somebody, somewhere will look up from Dancing with America’s Funniest Home Idol, turn off the TV, and say, “Wait a minute! That’s stupid. Stop it!” There’ll be a brief pause. The Dark Forces of Ignorance will grumble around for a while, and things will get back to normal. We’ve never actually flushed ourselves into the sewers of stupidity. We’ve come close a couple of times, but up to this point, we’ve never actually done it.
A perfect example of this happened last week. As you may or may not know, the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) wanted to change the rules (or “amend” the regulations) concerning what constitutes news in this country. You can read about it (here), but in case you don’t want to, this is the gist of it.
“This ‘amendment’ would mean that the news doesn’t necessarily have to be true anymore — as long as the broadcaster thinks it’s true. So, as long as the media doesn’t knowingly broadcast something that is ‘false or misleading,’ they can do as they please. … The operative word here is ‘knowingly.’ What it means is that something can be reported as the truth if the journalist believes it’s true; factual corroboration is no longer necessary.”
Every Canadian knew the CTRC was being stupid. One of the few things that separates us from our American cousins is we like our news bland, and we like it to be true. We don’t go in for National Enquirer sensationalism; we read that for entertainment. No, we want to know Where, When, What, Who and how many died. We can figure out Why all by ourselves. The problem was, not very many Canadians even knew the CRTC was about to change the rules. The very people who are supposed to be reporting the news to Canadians weren’t doing their job. Fortunately, though, a few Canadians did know what the CRTC was up to and made their feelings known. The CRTC, in an uncharacteristic move, did as they were told and didn’t “amend” the regulation. We stood on the brink of stupid and backed away because enough Canadians said, “Wait a minute! That’s stupid. Stop it!”
I’m an optimist. Like the Greeks, I think Mother Nature and human nature have a lot in common. I think there needs to be a balance in our society. I also think we forget that sometimes and go off drinking with the Dark Forces of Ignorance. Luckily, though, there always seems to be somebody who calls us to book on that, and after a little grumbling, we get back to normal.
I was only one of the people who complained to the CRTC. But I knew there would be others, ‘cause I’m an optimist.