China and Tiananmen Square


Some thoughts on what we ought not forget.

Nearly two decades ago the Chinese government crushed the public expression of democracy in Tiananmen Square. Some estimates say several thousand people died. Now they have decided, even though they said it was OK, they don’t want any live video from the square during the Olympic games.

The world of early June 1989 watched the beginning of the tension and the defiance on television, but then abruptly, the signal was cut off. To this day, the Chinese Government continues to deny that anyone but soldiers died in the weekend massacre. The collective heart of humankind, however, knows the truth and weeps. Just as the 2008 heart knows the truth of what’s happening in Tibet.

There is another sadness, beyond the continuing loss of life. It is the omnipresent shame that again in the human experience, an oppressive authority, used and uses force to prevent the empowerment of the people. Force will never conquer the desire, or the active quest for freedom in all its forms. History validates that truth, over and over again, on the crumbled actions of failed oppression. Truth and tolerance, compassion and education, common courtesy and common sense are the only values that will sustain a government in power and elevate the condition of its people. If we fail to learn it, we are destined to repeat it.

Why Poetry

Some thoughts on poetry.

April is National Poetry Month. Poetry is my avocation, better yet, my passion.

You might rightfully ask what inspires a broadcast journalist to dwell in a poetic world. The quick answer is a balance to the daily tragedy of life. The long answer involves acknowledging the heart, spirit, and nature and the peace that comes from that awareness.

Each broadcast day contains many of the sorrowful and tragic stories of life. Emphasis is placed on information that separates our unique, yet interconnected, human nature into undesirable parts. We labeled them as hate, prejudice, violence, intolerance, and greed.

Poetry, whether its rap or metered verse, quatrains or sonnets, laughs and cries, clarifies and condemns and brings the intellectual and emotional senses into a radiating body of meaningful words. Poetry holds, sometimes forever, an emotion long past, a desire forgotten, a wish remembered or a splendor that’s vanished in the illusion of time. It is also a minute connection to the elegance of verbal choice; to the beauty of form and to the emotion of words put fitly together on the palate of the mind. Poetry is both raw and sophisticated art available to the reader and listener as a subjective creation similar to the appreciation found in images created in oil or marble.

Ghosts of Greatness

I had an extraordinary experience a few years ago. I was on Ellis island in New York harbor. If you haven’t been there, you should. It is a place that is energized with the resonant memory of the past.
It’s an exhilarating experience standing in what is now the Ellis Island museum. I felt the courageous spirits of our immigrant ancestors and a profound respect for their courage to embrace change. So many moved step by step through the great hall on their way to freedom.

Amid the din of other people and soft conversation. I walked the path and steps that 18-million immigrants followed. I felt their hearts as I sensed their pride at what they personally accomplished, and at what this country has become because of them and what we still can be.

These ghosts of greatness linger there, not because they came through that portal of liberty so many years ago, but because they stay to stand watch. Their presence is everywhere, in old photographs, in hundred year old scribbled messages to loved ones on a passage wall, and in the descendants, who visit here and keep it hallowed ground. Ellis island reminds us that it does not matter how or where or when potential greatness comes to this land, it only matters what one does with the manifesting dreams of freedom, opportunity and responsibility.

Fear

Some thoughts on fright.

I suppose everybody is frightened by something sometime. We have all sorts of phobias documented by science that give legitimacy to our fears. Acrophobia, thristadeckaphobia, hydrophobia and so on. Phobia is a Greek word meaning fear.

After 9/11 and rightfully so many of us developed terrorphobia. We are worried that some misfits who have no concept of the real world will again kill indiscriminately in order to effect fear and punishment.

In many ways these terrorists are a lot like the road rage guys. It’s their way or no way. The road “rager” will dart dangerously in and out of traffic creating fear and anger and counter rage.

This is where we have to be careful. If we let our counter rage, our anger, or the fear encouraged by government comment or actions to control our common sense then we give up our franchise of choice and many of the freedoms that come with that franchise.

President Roosevelt was right when he said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. I think we’ve forgotten it lately.