Lack of perspective kills. A swimmer who sees only the immediate water around them – lovely and turquoise – but not the school of hungry sharks circling that lovely bit of turquoise? That swimmer is chum.
Religionistas will insist that their deity wants them to live according to the rules set down by ignorant (by our standards) iron age desert dwellers because everything anyone needed to know was “known” and set down in the texts those iron age desert dwellers produced. But, what if those iron age desert dwellers, before they sat down to write, had had access to all the information we take for granted today?
What if those scribes had known that microbes and pathogens cause most human diseases? What if they knew what RNA and DNA are? What if they had a Hubble Space Telescope and every bit of its remarkable data flow to chew on? Would they have written texts that killed people with magical plagues or put the earth at the center of everything?
If the men who wrote the OT had read Darwin or Stephen Hawking, if they had taken in a geology text book or a scientific paper on genetics, if they had ever gotten a chance to use the internet – would they have sat down and written the texts they wrote the exact same way?
The people who wrote, edited and put together the canonical New Testament used significant portions of the old texts as the basis for their new texts. The mythology Paul created leaned heavily on the Pentateuch. The whole basis for original sin is Eve and the Garden of Eden. If the men who wrote the originals never wrote those originals – because they were better informed about how the world really worked – the course of human history would have been radically different.
We may not have been any less self-destructive (homo sapiens are still homo sapiens) but at least we would have been denied that particular flavor of bullshit to use as an excuse.
So – if the people who wrote the religious texts so many Americans say they rely on as the basis for their lives had been just a teensy bit more educated via access to modern technologies – had they been able to “pull the lens back” even a little — human history would have been spared the chaotic, illogical darkness that certain religions have repeatedly inflicted upon humanity.
By the same token — if our Main Stream News Media were able to find the widest possible lens they can find, they might finally be able to tell the story we’re all living through. Nearly three years in to this nonsense, there are STILL reporters (like NBC News’ well-meaning but hopelessly feckless Kelly O’Donnell) who repeat back Donald Trump’s words as if he spoke gospel truth. It never occurs to them to contextualize Trump by saying – before repeating his words – that nothing he says is reliable.
They don’t. They position their reporting lens inside Trump’s bubble – where bullshit is true just because Trump says so. They report from inside the lie with the lie as their only apparent frame of reference. Either they genuinely believe the lie is true or they lack the perspective to see and report the relationship between lie and truth. Either way, they render themselves useless to We The People just when we need them most.
At the end of the day, when the smoke can finally clear and we see this story with whatever perspective we can before our generation literally dies off (and real perspective finally has a chance to flower), I bet we’ll post mortem the press this way: they failed on two major counts. First – Lack Of Perspective. Too often, our press has turned a laser focus on a piece of the larger story. While their focus was admirable, the fact that they lost perspective while focusing in so intently was not. For all the detail a guy like NBC’s Steve Kornacki can tell you about how voters vote, he never places them in the context of their times.
We have never lived through what we’re living through now. We have never had elections stolen by foreign countries before (at least not that we’re aware of). We have never experienced one party tossing out the Rule Of Law in a desperate grab for permanent minority rule. When these things happen, it kinda changes things. It’s like someone shitting in the pool. Is swimming in it – with turds bobbing around – the same experience?
No, Steve Kornacki, it is not. Steve epitomizes this sort of “intense focus” journalism. He can tell you everything you want to know about a particular grain of sand. Ask him where the grain of sand IS – on a beach? In the middle of the Sahara? In some kid’s sand box in a suburb somewhere?
Steve has no idea. That’s a problem where storytelling is concerned.
Second – Failure Of Imagination. It’s directly related to the first problem – lack of perspective. It’s kinda the “ouch” to lack of perspective’s “pinch”. If you can’t really see what the problem (or the story) is, you can’t possibly solve it (or report it accurately).
What happens when we pull back the lens on most of our Main Stream News Media is we see that they’re failing us – failing their Constitutionally mandated role as final check on power. I suggest we keep the lens back here. Their close up is really, really ugly.