Stop, Look, and Listen

31 Aug

By L. Stewart Marsden


I have a friend whose maxim was/is, “I only want to hear Good News.” I can relate. Living in the mountains, simply turning off the TV and selectively scrolling down FB is one way of avoidance.

In truth, this ostrich-like (they don’t really bury their heads) behavior is necessary sometimes, especially in an age when news of any kind is instant, and sometimes, as it is happening. During major election years, the clamor worsens. Can’t say I recall it ever being so bad. Perhaps the frustration of so much bad news generated by bad things is the reason for the spike in ancestral origins.

When I was in college in the late 60s/early 70s, three major events converged, rocking the previous post-war rebuilding — Vietnam, Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights. Oh, maybe four, if you consider abortion. With each, lines of clear demarkation existed, but each became mixed, as with a Ven diagram. The anger and protest and backlash generated ran over those “clear” lines.

How was communication handled then? Kent State. Watts. Selma.

My generation caught in the spin cycle of this accumulated dirty laundry. Casualties were sever. It’s disheartening to realize that very little in the way of war, civil rights and perhaps womens rights has moved in quantum positive steps. Abortion? Well, I’m not going there.

People on both sides of nearly any issue are clenching fists and jaws over those in leadership, to whom we have abdicated the responsibility of fixing our social problems. Obama — fix it, please. Hillary, Donald — fix it, please.

That’s why I find Thoreau’s comments about government so apt. The less, the better. None, even better. Government doesn’t fix anything.

Like it or not, you and I — on an individual person-to-person basis — are the conduits of change and improvement. And disorder, as well. It’s a choice.

So I say each individual has got to come to the place where each is willing to stop, look, and listen. Remember that phrase about crossing the street? Otherwise we step headlong into traffic that results in carnage and destruction.

Maybe we should don those bubble suits and converge on a huge field, bumping and bouncing off one another physically until exhausted, and then stop, look, and listen.

One Response to “Stop, Look, and Listen”

  1. Audrey August 31, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    If you could step away, go on the other side of the fence, to Canada, spend the last of the summer on the red sands of a P.E.I. beach, or cafe style it in Montreal by the side of your favorite libation while you write, without the influence of the U.S. media constantly pounding on your psyche; cut off all social media, newspapers, radio, tv, then go back one or two days before the election, speak to no one, walk to your nearest voting station and do what you must, then I have potentially the recipe for saving a year or two off your life from this heavy weight.

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