Skip to main content
kindness

It isn't often you come across one of those "though for today from one born on this date" axioms that warrants exploration beyond the momentary "huhh!" you give it. Here's one that transcends all that.

"What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?" ~ Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and author (born June 28, 1712, died in 1778)

What wisdom, Mr. Rousseau? Quite likely, none. But when it comes to reliable information needed to craft, forge, temper and apply wisdom...

  • Monday marks the three-year anniversary of the murderous assault on the newsroom of the Capital Gazette, a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. Five murdered, two wounded. The day brings dedication of the "Guardians of the First Amendment" memorial near the City Dock in Annapolis, with local dignitaries on hand for the unveiling.
  • The pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, the last stand for a free press in Hong Kong since the mainland communist Chinese takeover, published its final edition last week, after 26 years.
  • In the U.S., a tiny handful of corporate entities now control over 90 percent of American news outlets.

The first two points speak for themselves. The third is insidious beyond the obvious. One way that one is a problem? The principal sponsors of every TV newscast and all cable news channels are Big Pharma -- even as traumatized military veterans of multiple combat deployments are prescribed addictive drugs. 

We live in a culture where there's a pill for everything, and there is an acceptance akin to trusting the alchemist or the pouch of potions worn around the neck. Marijuana, now legalized, has spawned billions in hemp-based cure-alls and driven billions in ad spending by Big Pharma to defend their market sector. As if to enable reliance on the magical realm, resources for science classrooms and science reporting get short shrift. 

Concurrently and consequentially, we are numbed, distracted and diverted from questioning much that can be readily obscured, including the unseen unkindnesses of the power elite. Entire sectors of the corporatocracy are off-limits to investigative journalism on the national stage, while corporate cross-promotion usurps airtime allotted for news presentation.

Meanwhile, good journalism in the public interest IS out there. But it must contend not only with the carefully designed distraction of monied interests, but with random bullshit growing faster than the oceanic gyre of floating plastic trash. 
Critics are vital. But media self-criticism is like the guy looking under the streetlight for his car keys after losing them somewhere else. He's obviously pursuing the quest, and because he's where everybody sees him, others will watch and may join in. Of course it's meaningless and becomes just a show. Trumpet it all you want, but it functions only as a distraction while selling the idea of something happening. 

It cannot address credibility where it should, because assorted self-serving oligarchs control corporate messaging and dissemination of information. Increasingly it could be spelled "corpirate" messaging. Because the interests of, George W. Bush called them, "The Deciders," are too-often aligned with the ones paying to broaden the scope and throw of the bullshit. 

Try a Little Kindness" was first recorded by Glen Campbell as a single and as the title track of his 1969 album.

No deep dive into conspiracy theories required here: when money had bought control, it exercises it. Much that can be, usually is, orchestrated. And it includes stirring-up malevolent malcontents into making nasty, vicious threats -- and as we saw in Annapolis, even murderous attacks -- on reporters who are not telling them what they want to hear. 
That part is important. Today's world requires constant validation by an echo chamber, and for too many individuals, it is

delivered by the cynical profiteers who feed the masses through addictive social media. At every level, from gazillionaire tech guru to frustrated seething wallower in the daily sheep dip of social toxins, they form a matrix, a virtual phalanx, of those who make shit up, spread it on social media, and profit or otherwise gain corrosive enjoyment from it.

Consequently, in a time when so much advertising is needed to stay in the newspaper business that there is an ever-smaller "news hole" remaining for news? Time and resources get diverted from reporting, as it does from broadcast news time, because de-bunking mass disseminations of wildly inaccurate crap is now as much a daily necessity as expending resources on physical security for the newsroom.

This just in: coming soon, add the cost of physical security for reporters in the field, doing their jobs so the rest of us know what, of consequence, is happening in a thousand places.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Last week the U.S. Justice Department charged a U.S. Capitol riot suspect, Shane Jason Woods, "with assaulting a cameraman during the January 6 attack, saying the Illinois man is the first insurrection defendant to be arrested for allegedly harming a member of the media," CNN's Devan Cole reported. Along with tripping and pushing a US Capitol Police officer as seen in video recordings, Woods also allegedly "ran into and tackled" a cameraman outside the Capitol, according to court filings. And when asked about prosecuting January 6 insurrectionists, former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, said over the weekend that Trump's insistence on keeping followers stirred-up with his election lies is "all bullshit." 

Most media reported what Barr said. Certain outlets either ignored it or cast aspersions as they reported it, catering to the altered state of their core viewers.

Which is but one illustration that not everything claiming First Amendment protection is noble, or accurate, or trustworthy. Yellow Journalism brought us everything from the Asian Exclusion Act to the Spanish-American War to McCarthyism. Now it is greasing the wheels for state laws that will restrict voting in time for the 2022 midterms.
Societies are supposed to learn and grow from mistakes. There is supposed to be a march forward of civilization. Yet in 2021, some recently-founded cable channels, masquerading as news in an effort to capitalize on the bombastic on-air characters who get big ratings (and with that, maximum advertising revenues) on Fox News, are bent on beating Fox at its own game. So One America News Network (aka OAN) and Newsmax are headed for inciting riots by espousing fear-based fiction. They, and the on-air "personalities" at Fox News, are participatory insurgents that undermine all definitions of journalistic integrity.

Last week, Pearson Sharp, a "news" anchor on the wacko OAN used his broadcast to call for "death by mass executions" of those who disagree with Trump's election lies, and the mass executions of Democrats in general. It was widely reported as flash-in-the-pan news. It deserves far more serious concern. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/oan-goes-full-fascist-pearson-sharp-calls-for-mass-executions-over-election-fraud)

It impacts. Particularly among those who get all their information from extremist media and the echo chamber that social media constructs around their known likes. Two weeks ago I encountered a self-professed conservative who advocates shooting all the homeless people, "Until the rest of them get the message and stop that shit. That'll tell 'em to get a job. I'm tired of looking at them!" he said. Thing is, he isn't just one person who thinks that way, and social media aggregates, sometimes congregates, individuals into groups with similar ideas.

So how the hell do you reconcile all that with Rousseau's call, 300 years ago, for kindness as the ultimate expression of wisdom?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KaCBTSQZq1E

Here's a music video with a beautifully crafted slide show

Much closer to our own time, the late Glenn Campbell sang a trademark song written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin. It peaked at # 1 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart and was a # 2 hit Country single. It's been performed by symphonies, recorded by numerous musicians and bands, and was even sung by the characters on "Sesame Street." And it desperately needs to come back: 

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he's sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say "You're going the wrong way"

You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Don't walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness, then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

larry-wines-formal

You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

We think Mr. Rousseau would have approved.

"Try a Little Kindness" was first recorded by Glen Campbell as a single and as the title track of his 1969 album.

Larry Wines