Monday, January 10, 2011

"And I said to myself, 'What's the matter here?'"

The Song: "What's the Matter Here?" Words & music by Natalie Merchant and Robert Buck. Track 1 of In My Tribe, 1987.
How/when acquired: Illegally copied cassette, 1988; purchased CD, c. 1991. (My cassette has "Peace Train" on it; the CD doesn't.)
Listen/watch here.

I spent most of Saturday glued to coverage of the shootings in Tucson, on TV, radio and online. The 24-hour news media didn't acquit itself well, rushing to report that Rep. Giffords had been killed when she was still alive, offering conflicting reports about the number of victims and the number of suspects, and generally reminding me of the value of newspapers. Finally I remembered that I was choosing to consume this stream of media, and switched away to something less scary: a rebroadcast of The Exorcist on Spike TV.

Speed kills, as the signs used to say. Whatever else I took away from the events of this weekend, what I feel is the overwhelming need to take a deep breath and slow. down. The fact that we can communicate with each other instantaneously does not mean that we should. Anything worth doing takes time: learning, cooking, building, editing, writing, thinking. Creation takes time. Change takes time.

I'm writing this for my own benefit more than for anyone else's, because I am among the worst offenders. Emails don't need immediate responses. No one needs to be on Twitter. I need to spend more time thinking and less time reacting. I'm probably not the only one, but I'm the only one whose behavior I can control.

1 comment:

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

I find the events of the weekend profoundly discouraging, for many reasons. And after consuming everything I can that directly reports what has happened, I have shied away from public "discourse" about what happened. I don't trust the vast majority of professional opinionators to parse this properly. And while I have deep feelings about this event, and its context, I don't even know how to engage in this as a citizen without getting immediately sucked into exactly the wrong conversation, the wrong framing of the problem, and so forth. Yeah, I think you have got it right, to reply by simply repeating a question, the question. What's the matter here?