One wag put it this way: “History is just one damn thing after another.” I don’t believe it’s that simple or that cynical, but history is that relentless.
Every day from every source we are inundated by a Niagara of news. How are we to sort it all out? Here’s my best advice: Wait…!
At first, waiting seems so inappropriate. So un-American. I mean, in an age when we can access what’s new and what’s happening 24/7, it strikes most people that waiting is somehow wrong when instead we can instantly tweet or blog or demonstrate or riot our opinion. And oh how we do. Both the professional and the social media are clogged from dawn to dusk by us being busy giving our democratic opinions about everything from the Chicago school closings to the crisis in Syria to the threat in Iran to the President’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.
21st America has become the land of the free and home of the impatient.
Here’s some hard learned advice: Wait…! Wait until enough has happened and we know enough about what’s happened before we rush to our keypads and call-in programs with solutions. Otherwise we are a nation of impatient fans screaming uninformed advice to quarterbacks in the middle of every play. That’s not democracy in action; more like hubris in action.
Quarterbacks and managers, prime ministers and presidents should be judged on what they’ve done, not on what we decide they’re doing while they’re doing it. To make the point I would invite you to take the last month of news reports on any major story [in print or on screen] and compare the reports week by week. It’s unlikely any one will end in quite the way it began. History has always been written with a crooked line, otherwise known as the law of unintended consequences, with examples that range from the fall of Troy to the collapse of the Third Reich, from the discovery of fire to the discovery of the Beatles.
Is this a call for citizen inaction? Passivity in the face of challenge? No. But it IS a call for waiting long enough to know what we’re talking about. And yet entire cable networks, poitical parties and news orgnizations spend their best time and talent roaring angry headlines only to whisper embarrassed corrections days later. It always reminds me of the harassed player on the field who finally walked into the stands and said: “OK pal, here’s the ball; lets see what you can do with it!”
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