Moral Outrage & The Front Page

Writer Alan Garganus ( “Last Confederate Widow”) once told me “if you are not morally outraged by what you read on the front page of the newspaper on any given day, you have lost your moral compass.

For some reason a few little stories reminded me of that today.

The first one wasn’t even a story just a picture of a little girl (above) crying after her Bush-Cheney sign was ripped up by a Kerry supporter. As a dad I look at her dad’s face and I ask, “how will he explain this to the little girl?” I look at the Kerry supporter to her left and ask what kind of idiot are you? My comments here are not partisan they are essentially human. We should not be Pollyannaish, American politics have been nasty from the beginning and sometimes they bring out the worst in people, the fact that “both sides do it” does not make it more acceptable.

I was also blown away by a news story revealing that the provider of the “lost Bush documents once compared Bush to Hitler and for this and other reasons has routinely been discredited as a hostile source. Again this is not partisan, but how could CBS base their case on such a flaky source? This should concern people of every political stripe. Even the Seattle Times TV critic commented, “CBS’ remarkable rebuttal, offered by Dan Rather, is that even if the papers turn out to be technically phony, the assertions are true. One media watchdog group dubbed it “The fake documents are real” defense… At a time when entertainment has blurred the distinction between reporting and propaganda, news must cling to its rigorous standards. To downplay the details of veracity and plead a larger truth comes perilously close to the tactics of Michael Moore.”

The story of Johnny Cash’s possessions being auctioned off didn’t elicit outrage but rather bemusement until I read the illuminating comment one bystander made about the event in light of Cash’s lyrics (actually Trent Reznor’s) and life, “Culturally, I think it speaks volumes,” said Mr. Lord, as several of Mr. Cash’s pocket watches flashed on an oversized screen during the action. Mr. Lord recalled a line from “Hurt,” the Trent Reznor song recorded by Mr. Cash late in his career: “You could have it all, my empire of dirt.” “This kind of seems like what he was talking about.”

When Jesus advised his followers to sell all they had for the pearl of great price he was urging us to invest in eternal rewards and not in “the empire of dirt.” We are so accustomed to not taking Jesus seriously on wealth and possessions it doesn’t occur to us that we ought to be outraged when we see humans suffering from “affluenza,” a disease described as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in September 17, 2004 by | No Comments »

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