Voice and Vision

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144: I Don’t Blame The New York Times

I just read two upsetting articles in The New York Times. Well of course there are always upsetting articles in a newspaper, especially a fine one. No, it’s not The New York Times’ fault that these articles are so disconcerting. The reporters did their jobs professionally, thoroughly, with facts clear, honest, and evidential. But the true happenings they reported on were overwhelmingly bad. Life is not always pleasant. But sometimes it is downright horrific.

One article was about the Hamas/Israeli war. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Israeli women and girls are being raped and slaughtered by Hamas soldiers–a war methodology Hamas has undertaken with fury. Beautiful young women, who loved dancing, their boyfriends and husbands, and life itself, were grotesquely murdered–their bodies stripped, invaded, sliced, butchered, cut up, left to rot on the roadside, their once joy-filled lives ending in humiliation and pools of blood. I dare you to read about them. You won’t like it. I didn’t either.

Or try another Times article, this one about immigrant children illegally working 12-hour night shifts for large corporations here in the U.S.–in almost every state–where their lives are at risk. Some died cleaning meat processing machines, another injured in rounding up dairy cows behind heavy bars that crushed his back, another dying in dung. No one inspects these companies thoroughly, nor in the middle of the night when they’d find the underage children working, so desperate to help their families back in Guatemala or Venezuela or wherever they left to avoid starvation, terrible poverty, and frightening harm. But we still get our Skittles, Gerber snacks, McDonalds’ meals, Walmart products, even our Nestle’s chocolates from these companies, so who cares what children are harmed in the process? Do they not matter because they are brown-skinned immigrants? Do we only care about our own children who have plenty of food, a safe place to sleep, and more material possessions than they know what to do with?

Yes, I’m cynical. What caring person wouldn’t be? I’m also mad. Mad that an ordinary citizen can’t do a thing about the wrongs of the world. I actually wrote a couple of the companies when I first read about the abuse. No response.

I’m tired of learning about “successful” billion-dollar corporations whose millionaire and billionaire presidents, allies, and underlings don’t care about the dangerous illegal practices in their plants. Why should they care? They can play golf, send their kids to the best colleges, live in mansions, and buy anything they want. They are incapable of caring about those struggling just to stay alive. And as for women molested thousands of miles away in a war we somewhat support with our tax dollars, we apparently have no say.

I used to think being a human being meant something fine. That all humans cared about each other. That qualities like honesty, compassion, humility, generosity, brotherly love mattered to everyone. But that’s not true. Some humans have become so selfish that they no longer respect the principles and ideals we’ve long attached to humanity. The philosophy of doing unto others what you’d like done to you has been eroded by selfishness, radical differences, dishonesty, anger, crude language, attacks verbal and physical to the point of violent behavior.

“Me” has taken over where “We” used to function.

My husband and I happened to see a film made six decades ago, originally for TV, then removed, not shown again until recently on TCM: Carol for Another Christmas. I thought it quite spot-on. Especially the portion towards the end where Peter Sellers, in a unique role, addresses the “Me” issue. If you can find it, don’t buzz through to the end, watch the entire film for what it reveals about humanity; it’s as relevant today as when Rod Serling wrote it fifty years ago.

Not to leave you in the dark (though darkness can be edifying), I end this posting with a small Celtic prayer, for prayer may be our only hope, as it places you, me, and all mankind, in God’s care:  May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Gray Skies, watercolor, approx. 26" x 22", $875 by Gwendolyn Evans

Gray Skies, watercolor, approx. 26″ x 22″, $875 by Gwendolyn Evans

Artwork: Gray Skieswatercolor, approx. 26″ x 22″, $875. I completed this piece about a month ago, based on a photo I took of the nearby ocean one dark day. I’m especially fond of the dry brush work creating the rugged rocks in the foreground and the speckled bits creating the foamy waves. Though not a cheery, sunny scene, in its custom black frame this painting has a commanding presence, a depiction of one day’s reality.

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