Watching today’s news is depressing

Jon Bosscher and Jon Bosscher

It has certainly been rough for us news junkies recently.

My addiction to the latest tidbits approved for mass consumption by the septic system known as mainstream journalism has finally become a hazard to my mental health.

I have no way of knowing what the news will be when this opinion column goes to print in the BG News, but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that Iraq is still the unmitigated disaster it was when I wrote this.

In other news, people are still massacring each other in Darfur, Lebanon and Afghanistan, terrorists want to blow us up on planes, – apparently because “they hate our freedom,” and certainly not because American soldiers are being charged with raping and murdering Iraqi women and children – the price of gas is up (again) – and our beloved President awkwardly tried to massage the German chancellor at the G-8 Summit.

Of course, while the news may seem particularly frightening as of late, I don’t really remember a time when it has been particularly good either.

While our parents love to hearken back to some mythical golden age, I wonder when or if it ever existed.

Was it when we still had slavery or just legal discrimination, the Black Plague or just typhoid pandemics? World War I or World War II?

Whatever the case, the times they are a changin,’ and at a pace fast enough to bewilder even the most adaptable among us.

What’s more, the advent of instant global communications means that we can learn the death toll from the latest Israeli air strike, Hezbollah rocket launch or Iraqi IED in a matter of minutes.

How are we to cope? How are we to process and, on a daily basis, fit into our world view so much bad news?

And as Jack Johnson asked us, “Why don’t the news people cry when they talk about people who died?”

Apparently, many of us have simply opted out of wrestling with such questions.

According to the latest Zogby poll, commissioned for the pop culture game Gold Rush, three-quarters of Americans can correctly identify at least two of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves while only one quarter can name two of the nine current Supreme Court Justices.

On the other hand, I might accept Dopey and Sleepy as acceptable answers for either question.

Fifty-seven percent could identify J.K. Rowling’s fictional boy wizard, Harry Potter, and only half could name the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

However, most were aware that Potter’s magic powers were more rooted in reality than Blair’s claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Respondents were also far more familiar with the Three Stooges than they were with the three branches of the federal government – executive, legislative and judicial. This one is clearly good news: anyone who enjoys the antics of Larry, Curly and Moe will absolutely love speeches by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. I predict a big boost in the ratings for C-Span.

Don’t get me wrong. Wrapping one’s self in the warm, fuzzy blanket of ignorant bliss can be just so tempting at times like these. Unfortunately, while burying our heads in the sand might seem like a way to save us all from a great deal of unnecessary worry, these are the moments that challenge us to be as attuned to world events as we can possibly be. Today, water bottles are banned on board airplanes, tomorrow people are. While I hate to sound like an alarmist, events are unfolding as we speak that will profoundly affect our lives and the world we live in for years to come, and our elected representatives are making decisions that, while they may not bother you, have apparently upset the greater part of the world, a portion of which seem to have a knack for building bombs and flying planes into buildings.

To the freshmen: in between bonging beers, grab a newspaper or check out its Web site, and don’t trust Bill O’Reilly”.and vote!