Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shall Not Perish

It's true that I get a lot of my news from NPR and Comedy Central (via Hulu). So I often get it highlighted and/or a day late.

Or on Facebook, via links to timely stuff in various publications. It's random but not more biased than Fox News--indeed, much less so, as I can glean from clips from Fox News on The Colbert Report.

My scatter shot method works rather well in keeping me informed and exposing me to a variety of points of view. It is a far cry, of course, from my days at the City News Bureau, where my job was to read the paper--several papers, every single day, and clip the leading news stories, especially local, to have background information to give to reporters who called in for it so they could understand the context for what they were covering that day, and to flesh out the story for their readers, as needed.

Today various things come together on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln's famously succinct speech at the dedication of the soldiers' cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. In honoring the dead, Lincoln also encouraged us to recommit to democracy itself and make sure that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." I think the Occupy movement is another instance of this, a reminder "by the people, and for the people" that the "government of the people" ought to remember its purpose and not favor the rich nor continue to rig the system toward the advantage of the few.

Comic and cosmic ironies are the specialty of sweet Stephen Colbert, whose feature "The Word" on November 17 pointed to the idiocy of a Super Congress who would take health benefits from the 1%, meaning veterans, to help balance the budget, instead of taxing the 1%, meaning the super rich, which would be fairer.

Meanwhile, on The Daily Show, Sarah Vowell came on to remind us of Evacuation Day, November 25, when the last of the British troops left Manhattan, marking the very end of the American Revolutionary War. Many of us are unaware of that former holiday, as it was taken over by Thanksgiving, as Vowell notes, humorously casting the blame on Abraham Lincoln, the same guy who did not want us to forget the Civil War dead and what they had done for us.

And for another interesting war connection and collection of observations on what's going on today and how it fits into a historical context, please visit Confessions of Ignorance on the Bonus Army, a World War I soldiers' protest during the Great Depression...

The winding and layering of our stories somehow also coincides with Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, a documentary film about the songwriter, and his story of a great general who suddenly sees the truth about war, with a Lincoln-like melancholic awareness, but is reminded by Krishna that he is a warrior and must do his work and be what he is, anyway, though all these people will die, including himself. What are we to do?

We shall perish. What shall not?


Sandy Longhorn said...

Awesome post from the Land of Lincoln. You've given me all kinds of things to bring up in conversation with my history major / philosopher hubby. Thanks!!

Kathleen said...

Oh, my, someday I hope to meet you two in person!

Sandy Longhorn said...

That's one of my hopes, too! Although hubby is a hermit, I would lure him out with promises of the Lincoln museum in Springfield or some such thing!!! :)

Kathleen said...

The Lincoln museum is awesome! Yes! I will come to meet you!

Sandy Longhorn said...


Emily said...

I have a memory of being the only kid in 7th grade science class who got the teachers' lighthearted reference to the Gettysburg Address.