Monday, December 24, 2007

TIME Off-Kilter

TIME was trying to create waves apparently with its choice of Person of the Year, Vladimir Putin. The managing editor is quoted as saying, "I made up my mind about President Putin a few months ago. . . " I guess that means that their polling website has no meaning because it did not have Putin on the radar. Therefore, the new approach in polling the masses that I thought was enlightened change has been downgraded to meaningless and merely a marketing ploy. OK, I AM only a beginning Observer-in-training; so these kind of missteps are to be expected. I'll be the first to admit it.

The first runner up was Al Gore so TIME's editorial board did not dismiss the polls completely. In an interview regarding the matter, Gore made a statement with universal significance even if one does not believe that humans are contributing to global warming: "I do genuinely believe that the political system is not linear. When it reaches a tipping point fashioned by a critical mass of opinion, the slow pace of change we're into will no longer be the norm. I see lots of signs every day that we're moving closer and closer to the tipping point" (TIME, 12-31-07, p. 98.) Couldn't have said it better myself (see the sidebar about the reason for this blog.)

And what about the Burmese monks? Well, they didn't make the cut, although they were featured in TIME's Best Pictures of the Year at page 135, along with a quote of the Buddhist mantra chanted as they protested: "Let everyone be free from harm. Let everyone be free from anger. Let everyone be free from hardship." I would like to give them a Teddy Award, myself. Joe Klein, a columnist in TIME, gives an annual Teddy award, honoring bravery and for those striving valiantly.
While Klein gave his award to several politicians and bureaucrats who will be forgotten in short order, I would give it to these men and women of Burma who gave the words "daring greatly" new meaning. The following quote written by Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago speaks as if from the grave to these courageous monks: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again. . .who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly."

Moving on, would it surprise you as it did me that some of life's bigger questions were also search engine staples? Three of the top hits on Google in 2007 by category were: Who is. . .God; What is. . .Love; and How to. . .Kiss. Although the other categories about Google news (American Idol show); Movies (Transformers) and Campaign (Ron Paul) were more predictable and mundane, the questions of who is God and what is love could potentially show a movement toward more enlightened discourse. How to kiss seems to fall in with the other two, although one would have to use their abstract reasoning capacities as to how.

The AIG company is currently running a series of ads both on television and in print that tout the power of the positive adding years to one's life. They are uplifting and sometimes quite informative. Take this one, for example, entitled "How to pick a puppy that's right for you"--"Here's a test you can perform when you first meet the puppy. Gently roll him over onto his back. Hold him there with one hand on his chest for a full 30 seconds. A normal puppy will resist you at first but then accept it. A dominant dog will struggle the entire time. A submissive puppy won't resist and might lick your hand. An independent dog will resist and avoid eye contact. That determines how the puppy accepts the stress when socially and/or physically dominated." It concludes by saying: "Pets can add 7 years to your life." My question, if that's the case for pets, might it not be the same for a human partner? We should give it a try. If anyone does, let me know, and we will post the results.

Speaking of ads, Hyundai, the Korean car manufacturer, is running a multiple paged ad on change entitled "Think About It" that I found quite enlightening. It begins: "Thinking begets ideas. Ideas beget change. Change begets human rights. And longer lasting light bulbs. And donut holes. You don't have to cure cancer to change the world. And besides, there's more than one world that needs changing. So change something. Anything. It's all good." It then goes on for several more pages encouraging the reader to make the changes necessary to move evolution onward and upward: "Change doesn't just happen. And you're not going to find it in the hall closet. You've got to fly 230,000 miles into space in a steel tube for it. You've got to scribble on a chalkboard for 50 years for it. Sometimes, you even have to go to jail for it."

Since it's Christmas Eve, I thought it timely to speak about Bethlehem, which is surprisingly governed by Palestinians, and the wall going up around it. The Israelis, who are putting up the wall, do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims living there. All are treated as a suspect Palestinian, and the wall solution is the only one the Israelis find viable. TIME (p.13) quoted a Christian university student, who must travel through the wall and checkpoints daily: "Jesus Christ wouldn't be able to leave Bethlehem today unless he showed a magnetic ID card, a permit and his thumbprint." We look for enlightened change in this volatile area in the coming year by joining with others in meditation and prayer. Jesus Christ will join as well, I'm sure.

And finally, a quote from the late Tammy Faye Baker Messner will lead us into Christmas: "I refuse to label. . .We're all just people made out of the same old dirt, and God didn't make any junk" (p. 172.) Hear, hear, Tammy! I bet with what she went through, she knew the true meaning of Christmas and the message of love brought to us by that babe in Bethlehem. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

No comments: