Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In the News

The death of Bin Laden at the hands of an American commando team is the news this week. Trump's birther conspiracy theories have been forgotten. Even gas prices are no longer front page news. People seem to be either jubilant over Bin Laden's death or contemplative. There is a facebook posting gone viral that attributes a quote to Dr. Martin Luther King which is actually the product of a 24 year old English teacher in Japan who used part of a King quote which she added to her own thoughts. In this facebook/twitter age it's a good idea to always check your sources before reposting. There is another posting that links you to photos of a dead Bin Laden. But, this is spammish and if you click on it you have just sent it to all your facebook friends. Under your name which might make people think you would post something you would not. Used to be so much simpler to follow the news. And just talk to people about it.

There is no end to the Bin Laden media frenzy in sight and in addition to the media sources you can read what everyone else thinks of it, too. Thank you facebook/twitter. What did we do before we had access to everyone's instant, earnest thoughts on every subject of the day. Used to be you might talk about the days news with a friend or spouse. Now all your "friends" weigh in.

The weather is still in the news. Tornadoes in the South and flooding in the North. The Army Corp of Engineers blew a huge hole in a levee in Illinois to avert catastrophic flooding. Yet, in parts of Oklahoma they have not had rain in 122 days raising fears of another dust bowl. One town, Boise City, is down to about 1200 people and most of the downtown is boarded up. The funeral director doesn't have enough work so he had to open the town's only cafe. There are few jobs and people have to move to find work. Farms are not producing due to the lack of rain. To make matters worse, the state is completing a bypass that will divert the truck traffic around town further reducing the town's revenues. In the midst of all of this bad news, Huston Hanes, 87, who lived through the dust bowl has no plans to leave town. He told the NY Times, "We have had hard times before, but any place you go, you're going to have some adversity, he said with a shrug, "We don't have that many tornadoes."

Perspective is important in these days of adversity. Reinhold Niebuhr was no optimist but he was a realist like Huston Hanes. He lived at a different time with different challenges but his words ring true to me today.

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in the immediate context of history, therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness." (from The Irony of American History, 1952, and newly re-issued with a new foreward by Andrew Bacevich)

BTW, I double checked the source of the quote and it is 100% Niebuhr and 0% me. The Hanes quote came out of today's NY Times. The reference to the facebook MLK quote gone viral is from and the spam reference was from a personal conversation with my son. Whatever is left is mine.