It’s a glorious autumn day in Central Florida. The air is coolish (for Florida) and refreshingly dry. The sky is a soft pale blue, unlike the dense, sun-baked, heavy blue of summer which seems to hold in humidity like a bell jar. Today you can breathe easily and feel pleasure in it. I like to imagine that the beards of Spanish moss waving gently from the still-green bald cypress trees are enjoying the air as much as I am.
Summers here can be harsh, which is why I escape to the mountains. I’m so lucky to be able to do this. I have been, and continue to be, the most fortunate of women. I did not grow up with materialistic goals or consumer values. We lived comfortably in mid-century America with few luxuries and no sense of being deprived. We listened to light-hearted radio shows on weekend mornings and had no television set until I was eleven; and then there were only three channels. What I heard and saw from advertising, news programs, and politicians in those days may have been impossibly innocent, idealistic and unrealistic, but most of it gave me hope that the grown-ups in charge were noble, wise, honest, kind-hearted and well-intentioned. I had faith that they had everyone’s best interest at heart, and I trusted them to tell me the truth.
I married a strong, intelligent man of good character and together we bought our first home, raised two extraordinary children, and created a comfortable life. With the help of scholarships, loans, careful investments, a pay-as-you-go mentality, love, good health, and good jobs we are now living the American dream. Our children are doing the same thing. And our grandchildren….. aaaah…..I smile with joy and pleasure when I think of them. We’ve been kind to each other and America has been kind to us. And we are very, very grateful.
But one thing, one seemingly subtle and ordinary — but to me very ominous — thing is spoiling my pleasure in my daily life and clouding my vision of my grandchildren’s future here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is a very unkind poison new to our generation that is as toxic to human life as the carbon monoxide from cars, sulfur oxides in acid rain, or nitrogen oxides blanketing cities in hazy brown domes of smog.
The poison I am referring to threatens the health and welfare of our minds, spirits and souls. It is the hateful, hostile, divisive, deliberately deceitful, greed- and power-motivated name-calling, finger-pointing messages spewing out of the air waves into homes, cars and businesses in every town and state of our country.
The scariest thing of all is that this gleeful, blatant, conscienceless lying and fear-mongering is beginning to seem normal. And our children and grandchildren are exposed to this toxic unkindness every day. I can tell you from long experience that the massive, invasive, unrelenting presence of irresponsible journalism, advertising, and political campaigning is neither normal nor healthy. This is very bad news for our souls, for America, and for the world.
That’s why I don’t listen to Fox News and have joined TurnOffFox.org. Must the American dream of a kind world and better future die with my generation? Dear God, I hope not.
“Man, like the other animals, is originally simply the puppet of instinct, just as the infant is. Unless he is moved by instinct, he remains