In no particular order, I wish I had never heard any of these words, terms and names over the last decade as much as I have:
- bin Laden
- Green Zone
- Muktada al Sadr
- any Stan
- Hamid Karzai
- Pervez Musharraf
- al Qaeda
- WMDs or Weapons of Mass Destruction
- No-Fly Zones
I still have hope. That is about all that I have right now. I would like to see the government work for us, work for me, work for my children. The initial push by the Obama administration to right the ship that had been steered into the shoals over the last eight years is hearening. The news, though, is dishearening to listen to, as everyone, everyone, seems to have an opinion of what is wrong. Everyone is a critic. I can't listen to the news anymore, because it is as depressing as the winter sky over Upstate New York. Gray. Dismal. Never-ending gloom.
The occassional glimpse of the sun through a break in the clouds is enough to keep me going. I wish that everyone had the sense to shut up, put their head down in their work, push ahead and help to get us through this morass that we find ourselves in. We need to be better to each other. We need to help each other. We need to work together to solve this mess. If everyone would stop the backbiting and criticizing, then we might make some headway.
The role of the critic, in posing different points of view than his/her own, is one of the more perplexing vocations. Everyone has his/her opinion, yet some of the more vocal ones get paid, and paid well, to rouse the masses, inciting restlessness and, dare I say, revolution. That is not to say that they should not express their insights. This is the fundamental freedom to which we are entitled by living in this country. However, the bitterness, the anger, the self-righteous recriminations must stop.
I am reminded of one of the great speeches of our time, of recent times, from one of the most unlikely sources. See if you know where it comes from.
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.
Try Anton Ego from the animated movie, Ratatouille. Here is the rest of his speech.
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.
The initial part of this quote is as near to what I can express about the media and the news. I hope this makes you think, open your minds and your hearts, to the possibilities out there if you can just welcome them instead of criticizing them.