Why isn’t peace televised?
Why must we all become experts on war? Why has every media outlet with two quarters to rub together sent correspondents to the Gulf with the expressed purpose of relaying every iota of information on combat back to us in the states?
This morning, my newspaper had 24 out of the first 37 pages devoted to war. The other 13 were full-page advertisements for either liquor, clothes or cell-phones. There were articles on battles, pictures of the dead or wounded, maps of precisely what is where and more articles as to why, quotes from generals and quotes from privates, first-hand accounts from reporters rolling across the desert with the troops, a paragraph on the difficulty of answering nature’s call in full combat gear, more pictures, this time in color, questions and answers on the right rules of military conduct, all topped off with a full color front page photo of a little girl lying on the ground – looking quite dead but apparently “only” in shock.
The headline reads: “Allies close in,” only in a font that’s much bigger than I can duplicate on my computer.
The radio fills the air with live reports from Baghdad, bombs bursting in the background as the reporter tells us about a particular firefight or another poignant tale of a displaced farmer.
And the TV? What can we say about coverage that continues unabated for 24 hours, 7 days a week except S give it a rest, will ya? We’re going crazy over here!
What makes war more fascinating than peace? Why haven’t we had the kind of intense coverage of peace-making that we have had for war-making?
Where was the plethora of reporters breathlessly broadcasting from within the U.N. Security Council over the last successful settlement between differing countries? Why haven’t the papers assigned platoons of journalists to provide coverage of our churches and synagogues and mosques who wage peace daily by providing food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless?
How come no network has sent a phalanx of folk to Habitat for Humanity or Amnesty International? I’d much prefer seeing an organizational chart for those dedicated folk who have been anonymously working for peace for decades than one more diagram depicting how many tanks, troops and generals we have surrounding Basra.
What about a few newspaper pages dedicated daily to the people who have committed their entire lives to organizing communities to fight the war on crime and poverty here at home? A full-page, color spread on the brave souls who spend their days mediating disputes between nations, communities or couples might not be as flashy as the war in Iraq, but it would probably be far more productive in the long run.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Fox News used its rolling banner at the bottom of the screen to instantly report on peace efforts for a change? Imagine an unending litany of peacemaking going on around the globe S “An argument between neighbors was settled today when Sister Mary Joseph convinced the fighting factions to shake hands S Mrs. Estelle Wheeler reports her husband has stopped yelling at the kids thanks to the intervention of Rabbi Rosenburg S Iceland has successfully completed an entire week without threatening any other countries with military action S”
One wonders what would happen to our global psyche if the network news anchors donned their Ex Officio bush jackets and headed for Geneva instead of Baghdad. That beautiful Swiss city is home to countless international organizations that are dedicated to discovering and cultivating alternative ways to war. Why hasn’t Geneva received the kind of media blitz now reserved for those troubled metropolises in Iraq?
It appears reasoned dialogue and decent debate don’t sell Big Macs and Buicks the way a good war does. Apparently there is nothing more fascinating than young men and women risking and giving their lives so we old men and women can watch it on TV.
Quixotic to be sure and certainly far less profitable, nevertheless waging peace makes a whole lot more sense to me now that I’m becoming an expert on war.
Columnist Rich Mayfield appears in this space on Saturdays.
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