Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4538
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 3rd. 2001
Confessions of a News Junkie
I confess. I am a news junkie. I am addicted and I am not seriously looking for any treatment. I don't remember exactly when it was that I finally took that fateful and deciding 'hit' that pushed me over the brink and transformed me from being just another casual news browser into a full-fledged news hound. But if there is a cure, I don't want it. I love all-things-news: the news media, the news pundits, the news television shows, the news Internet outlets and the news message boards. When I am not busy hating them, that is. And perhaps no one person sums up my love-hate relationship with the news and news people better than the resident provocateur of MSNBC'S 'Hardball' show, Chris Matthews.
I yell at Chris quite a bit. He is cocky. He interrupts. He is hard to pin down ideologically. A self-confessed Democrat, he has a Republican streak that he doesn't try to hide. Just when I think that Chris has finally come to his senses on an issue, he'll go in the other direction and piss me off all over again. I have sworn more than once to never, never, never watch his show. But then he'll say something so brilliant, so insightful and so damn.. well ... moving, that I find myself falling in 'like' with the guy all over again. Give Chris and me a day or two though and I can almost guarantee that I will be shouting at my poor innocent television screen once more. I wish that I knew more Gaelic swear words as I have just about worn out most of the English ones already.
But in a way, Chris Matthews also mirrors my own love for the news. Not just a love for the pundits and media outlets that I tend to agree with but also for those that I mostly think are totally and incurably mistaken. I read them all. And I find it odd that more folks- especially Pagan folks- don't do the same. I know people who will only watch Fox News or 'The O'Reilly Factor' because they 'don't want to hear any viewpoints that aren't what they believe in'. They actually said that. Bill Press of CNN's 'Crossfire' and author of a book called, 'Spin This!: All the Ways We Don't Tell the Truth', basically said that same thing to Bill O'Reilly last week. Bill O. replied, "Baloney!" Bill P. countered with, "No. Spin!" Good stuff that! And very, very American.
There has been a lot of talk -and a lot of spin- on that word of late: American. What is 'American" or un-American' anyway? There are thousands of little flags riding around in the windows of SUV's. Is that America? Many governmental policies being implemented are done so in secret these days in order to better 'keep us safe from the evil-doers.' Is this America? Is it saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools or plastering up 'God Bless America' posters over, under and on top of anything of substance that is plasterable? Given the large numbers of people who believe in these things or are doing these things today, maybe it is. But to me, America is something very much like a Chris Matthews' show. You love it, you hate it, sometimes you adore it and sometimes you revile it; often you agree with it and just as often you swear at it. But you keep coming back for more because ultimately American democracy is the best program in the world.
On one of those days when I had sworn off of all things Matthews, I happened to flick by 'The Imus Show' (which I also quite regularly and redundantly declare that I will absolutely never watch.) and there was Chris. And he did it to me again. He gave what can only be described as a grand speech on what America and American democracy means. It was one of the most eloquent sets of words that I have ever heard come out of any media pundit's paid-for lips. But it was more than the words. There was this fierce light in his eyes and as his voice shook with the emotions that had put that light there, he got to me. Again. Because in those few brief moments of intensely impassioned honesty, I could see that whatever his politics, whatever his religious preference, whatever his ideology might be, Chris Matthews loves America:
"I think freedom is this country's greatest gift to the world. In the political arena, it's the ability of the American people to do what they're not supposed to.' and "When you think about it, we Americans are different. That word 'freedom' isn't just in our documents; it's in our cowboy souls."
Kind of makes me want to shout, "Yee-Haw" and watch reruns of 'Gunsmoke'. It's corny, I know. But it has been a while since I've seen that sort of love-light for America shining out from any politician's eyeballs while talking about what is and what isn't 'American'. Chris should set up some sort of workshop or something for our elected beltway boys and girls the next time he is in Washington.
We started what our regulars know as 'Wrens Nest' here at TWV pretty much by accident. I love the news and spend many hours a day watching and reading whatever I can get my remote control and keyboard on. It occurred to us that perhaps a few other people might like to read some of this stuff too. So we put up a page. We had no idea that the 'Nest' would become a regular stop for so many people, Pagan and non-Pagan alike. I am happy that it has and would like to thank everyone who so kindly continues to send me news clips and urls of interest. (BTW, if you want credit for the submission on the Nest, just let me know. I won't 'out' anyone without permission, but I do like to give credit where it is due.) As we develop our new and dynamic front page, you will soon see a 'news ticker' type thingie there with the latest headlines to make it even easier for you to get the latest scoops.
My reason for following the news so closely is a simple one: You really have to know what is going on in a democracy. In a more repressive type of government, it doesn't matter so much. They say jump. You jump. Not complicated. But a democracy is full of voices and ideas and plots and plans. It isn't always easy to sort them out and it is even harder to figure out sometimes who has the better idea or plan. It's kinda messy. Often confusing. Frequently loud. Not always pretty. But that is the part of the process that works the best. Everyone has a shot at it. May the best plan win. But in order for that process to continue to be the best in the world, Americans have got to remain players in the game. Ignoring the news because it is confusing and messy or because it might upset your personal little applecart might just eventually mean that now both your apples and your cart are no longer yours to wheel about as you might wish. That 'knowledge is power' thing? It's a good thing. And it is a very good thing for insuring the freedoms that we now enjoy remain the freedoms that our children will know later.
Yep, to me American democracy really is a lot like a Chris Matthews' show. I'll scream at it on some days and I'll wipe away a tear of unadulterated patriotic pride over it on others. It makes me think. It makes me work for it. It forces me to examine my own ideas and ideals and to see how they stand up against the equally strong but opposing ideas and ideals of others. It makes me a better person. It makes me a stronger person. It's worth all of the fuss.
And I'll keep coming back to it day after day because American democracy is still the very best program in the world.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
December 3rd, 2001
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