by Kenneth Justice
~ This past week for NBC News anchor Brian Williams hasn’t been the most memorable (emphasis on memorable and memory). I’m sure years from now Williams will look back at this week differently, but for now, he’s been the subject of getting caught with his pants down after it leaked that his reporting of his firsthand experiences in Iraq and New Orleans were less than accurate.
How is it possible for Williams, long believed to be one of the most reputable NEWS reporters, to be linked to inaccurate reporting, embellishing events, and being altogether untrustworthy?
I believe the answer is quite simple; too many people in the NEWS believe the real story every day….is themselves.
Television has made stars and celebrities out of anyone who gets a decent amount of screen time; Reality Stars, Network Sitcom Stars, NEWS Stars, Daytime Talk Show Hosts…..in the Western World if you get yourself some screen time you can become a star, or at least that is what many people believe.
Oprah, Brian Williams, Jay Leno, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Jimmy Kimmel, the list is endless. What do these talking heads actually contribute to society?
—) Have they ever labored for hours on end working through the classics of literature and philosophy, struggling to find the eternal truths that connect humanity throughout history?
—) Have they ever labored hours on end in a laboratory, facing countless failure in the attempt of curing cancer?
—) Have they ever spent months and years at a time living on the streets with homeless people, working with them, feeding them, trying to help them overcome addiction, deal with their mental illness, all in the hope of giving them a better life?
These talking heads on TV are nothing more than over emphasized entertainers. Do I sound too harsh? Let’s consider for a moment how disconnected these people are from you and I;
—-) People like Bill Gates, Rush Limbaugh, Oprah, and Brian Williams live in 85 Million Dollar homes in Santa Barbara, they spend exorbitant amounts flying in personal jets, they consume more energy (electricity, gasoline, jet fuel, etc) in a week than you and I do in a year. As explained here in this article by the Guardian, people like them may be well intentioned, but let’s be honest, they are apart of the 1% and are entirely disconnected from real life <article>
I don’t hate Brian Williams and I don’t hate Bill Gates. I don’t resent their success and neither do I want them penalized for their success. What bothers me is that the masses of nebbishes throughout the Western World worship these TV celebrities and ignore the real standard bearers worth of honor.
Everyday there are teachers, professors, stay-at-home parents, volunteers at homeless shelters, and others who are truly working for a better world. These nameless people are ignored, and instead our culture pays hundreds of millions of dollars to celebrities to entertain us; can you hit a baseball or kick a soccer ball? If so we will pay you millions of dollars to make us smile and forget about the frailty of our lives.
Nearly a hundred years ago Gandhi was already writing about his concern regarding Western Culture. The West was beginning to invade the East, the consumerism, the worship of celebrities, the focus on war as a solution to problems. Gandhi preached a different message; he taught meditation, and peace, and prayer.
I guess what I’m getting at is Brian Williams is simply too big for his britches; because we enabled him. We worshipped him (and his cohorts) and made them think that what they did was of the utmost importance. We somehow made Oprah believe that what she did in her talk show was somehow more important than what social workers are doing at a homeless shelter. We convinced Bill Gates that computer technology was worth of him being a billionaire.
The blame does not rest upon Brian Williams, the blame lies upon us who made him and those like them believe that they are more important than they really are; the blame lies upon us who are obsessed with amusing ourselves to death.
How do we change things?
First of all we start reading. We teach our children to read. Reading enables the mind to think in a way that television entirely fails. Reading teaches us to think more logically and creatively. Reading stimulates our brains; television zones us out.
Secondly, we need a new mythology in our culture. We need to replace this myth of celebrities being important, and replace it with a comprehensive myth that stirs us toward social justice. We need a myth that becomes rooted in our children’s heart and which enables them to focus on the things that matter most.
Finally, we need to embrace a deeper philosophy. We need to relegate entertainment to less time in our daily lives. Triviality, athletics, video games, and the like, shouldn’t consume our every waking moment. Our children need to be shown a philosophy that gives them a greater identity and meaning to their lives.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society