Local newspaper editors and their television-station-news-anchor counterparts do their part. They inform their respective publics about knifings, robberies, gang violence, murders by firearms, and other such information crucial to well-informed citizenry. News media with broader reaches—television networks and newspapers with national circulation—expand coverage beyond ambulance chases to include serial killings, mass-casualty events, and socio-political upheavals that hold the promise of generating explosive social rage. Global news outlets—television, streaming services, newspapers, etc.—encourage viewers and readers to think from an international perspective in terms of information that could portend the catastrophic end of civilization as we know knew it. With all that supportive guidance, who could avoid giving hopelessness and despair all the emotional room necessary to successfully overcome optimism? Compassion, once the rage, is no longer in fashion. Ferocious self-interest seems to have taken its place. But can we legitimately blame the media for our despondent self absorption? We tend to treat media messages as “truth,” accepting the messengers’ guidance about their meaning. Thus, we share the blame with the media. Because we do not know enough about how to interpret the “news,” we allow ourselves to be taught what to think. It’s all very smooth and unintrusive; we do not even realize we are complicit in our own ignorance. That (among other situations) is what sometimes makes me feel like swallowing a handful of razor blades. I’ve probably said all this before. So, treat me like an old-time leper.


Fifteen-year-old photos of me reveal me to be an exceptionally over-chunky fat guy. Some more recent photos show the same guy in the same condition. A photo taken today would reveal a much leaner, but still fat, and much older-looking man. Greyer, thinner hair today; no longer willing to cooperate with a comb. I look healthier today than I did fifteen years ago, but in that time my body has battled two rounds of cancer, a couple of bouts of pneumonia, several miscellaneous illnesses, and a belligerent pancreas—probably more. Mentally and emotionally, today I am identical to myself of fifteen years ago but changed so completely that I cannot recognize myself. Odd that I am the identical twin of the person I once was, but I share no attributes, no characteristics, and no similarities of any kind with him.


Off to church. Soon.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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