Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Discretionary Listening

The older I grow the more I listen 
to people who don’t talk much
~ Germain G. Glien

The author of an op-ed piece in our local paper posits beginning a “Slow News” movement, a lá Michael Pollen’s “Slow Food” concept. This columnist feels most news is of little importance and asks us to “… question the value of the perpetual fast-food-like empty-calories news that is processed to keep us addicted to it.”

The recent horrendous acts of gun violence at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut were 24/7 fodder for the mediaeach outlet striving to be the first with the latest tidbit of information. Most of us wanted to know what had happened and our hearts broke for the pain the loved ones had to endure. This was not empty-calorie news.

However, as with other instances of international, national or regional importance, “breaking news” alerts bombarded us—either crawling along the bottom of our TV screens or blasting through our radios. Each media entity strove to be the one to grab our attention and tease us so that we would hang on through the looming and long commercial break.

It is in the best interests of my own emotional health that I be vigilant about the amount of processed news I allow into my psyche. Therefore, a few days after this tragedy, I stopped paying attention to the latest “breaking news." Instead I chose to concentrate on the broader conversation regarding access to assault weapons. 

I continue to be interested in sensible, non-confrontational discussions about gun control. Two days ago I spoke at length with a friend who is a former policeman, who knows what it’s like to use a gun in the line of duty and who owns several automatic weapons. He is adamant that assault weapons have no place in the hands of private citizens. 

Friends who have used weapons to legally hunt, who have had access to rifles since they were children and some who have concealed weapon permits, each and every one of them hold nothing but derision for those young men who felt the need to strut through our town with assault rifles slung over their shoulders. Yes, a “statement” was made, but I truly doubt it was the one those boys hoped for.

Timendi causa est nescire
Ignorance is the cause of fear
~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

It often seems as though the world is a seething cauldron of hatred and violence. When we take time to delve into the root causes, we frequently discover ignorance drives the vitriol and fear perpetuates it. Sadly, there are those who profit immensely from creating a feeding frenzy of fear.