Human nature is leap challenged and that’s the way it is
My most vivid, earliest memories include the clippety-clop sound of JFK’s horse-drawn caisson; the headline of the Spartanburg Herald reporting the assassination of MLK; and gazing at the Moon with my younger brother minutes after Walter Cronkite’s reporting of Neil Armstrong’s small step onto the Lunar surface.
I remember being baptized three years later and looking back 40 years later think the only truly positive giant leap for mankind was nearly 2000 years ago by God made flesh and baptized, who, in love made correction possible from the deadly giant leap from Eden.
Leaps in context
By 1969 Mama, Daddy, Pop, Nana, Sunday School and Grammar school had imparted a clear world view of good and evil; that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself; and a heroic view of my country as the greatest force for good this side of eternity that the world had yet produced.
In 2009, after engaging in some adult evil; being betrayed by many men that were among the greatest beneficiaries of America’s goodness, including technological leaps; and after realizing that probably the greatest leap for mankind since Calvary occurred in 1776, the impartations of 40 years ago stand immutable.
Despite Og’s invention of the wheel; Rome’s viaducts; and Glenn’s orbit, a communist slayed Camelot’s Arthur and an Islamist slayed Sir Lancelot. The next year the Star Spangled Banner was planted in the Sea of Tranquility.
The face of Columbia Broadcasting met us in our living rooms to mourn our beloved dead and marvel at American man’s exceptionalism. But that face and other faces within the limited spectrum of broadcast television and, later, like-minded faces on cable TV also betrayed the heroic vision of 1776.
But, I no longer blame Uncle Walter.
Rather, I blame Adam, Eve, technology, affluence, cowardice and us all.
Technological, accidental journalistic monopolization
Before television, the press was on paper and than also, on the radio, with numerous choices, mostly partisan, that competed for customers based on accuracy and like-mindedness. One’s objectivity and reliability had to be earned.
The limited spectrum of the technological leap of television changed the relationship between the press and the public, and not at all totally for the good.
Walter Cronkite is rightfully respected as a great reporter, journalist, newsman and good man, but his out-sized reputation as the most trusted man in America, who was singularly capable of telling us the way it was, was not deserved. No man would ever deserve that appellation and attendant power. Had there been no Cronkite, the image of some other man would have been elevated to God-like status by the flickering magic boxes manufactured by Maxnavox.
We are told that the 1950s-1970s were the golden age of objective journalism. We were told of the McCarthy “era”; that the assassinations of the Kennedys were due to an “environment of hate” fostered by right wingers; and that Reagan was a fool.
We weren’t told that the Democrats’ abandonment of the then-victorious South Vietnamese in 1975 was responsible for the slaughter of millions of Hmong, Vietnamese and Cambodians.
We were betrayed by the vaunted “objective” monopolistic anchors with a monolithic world view. We would have been similarly betrayed by any such small group of the accidentally revered, even with a different world view.
But we deal with what actually was, and what actually happened is that Americans were made to feel ashamed of their past and guilty for their prosperity. We were betrayed by the greatest beneficiaries of the prosperity, none of whom ever chose to give it back.
The Giant Leap of 1776
Most all of world history before 1776 was one of tyrannical oppression and the constant struggle for enough food to eat. America is an aberration but it seems too many of the golden, objective era of journalism never understood why. They forgave all other cultures their greater sins and blamed America for what we did or what we didn’t do that caused or “allowed” the evils of others. We were betrayed.
Most of the great superpowers of the past were nations that enslaved and raped other nations.
America ended slavery and has liberated most of the world. America has had the highest standard of living since 1830. Today, the world has free trade and our poor are obese.
How could we afford all this? How can we at once have our poor live better than the Kings of the past and afford a military that can defeat the megalomanicas of evil? One need only look at what the Founders wrought with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as unalienable rights. The fact that man could rule himself and keep the fruits of his labor and private property that would give him the incentive to take risks to create wealth. The moral heart of capitalism that requires that the first customer be satisfied if one wishes to sell widget #2.
Yet, for too long we were told that we were evil, greedy people. We were betrayed.
John F. Kennedy loved liberty and hated communism, the then latest incarnation of man’s conceit from the Garden to “be as Gods” and thus a prevention of giant leaps for mankind. Surely our fealty to Christ has something to do with the numerous large leaps, even if not giant, to fashion a society the huddled masses of the world yearn to occupy?
We were betrayed
Yet, that objective media for too long heaped scorn on our public acknowledgments of faith. We were betrayed.
I don’t pine for the days before Cable TV, Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report. I also don’t blame Uncle Walter for the sins inherent in the journalism world he inherited. He did as well as any one man could have done with that inordinate power and surely loved America.
But we are better off with the vast competition in the press today. Dan Rather couldn’t pawn off the forgeries on Bush National Guards, for instance.
I am most proud of America when it has helped others, as in pre-TV World War II or when Reagan used the technological superiority of America to free the non-free world and tear down the Berlin Wall. Those were giant leaps. Yes, technology helped, but that technology was made possible in the first instance by the 1776 recognitions of man’s nature and by the courage to act on Christ’s moral imperatives for our neighbors.
I would love to see some giant leaps for mankind in Israel, Iran and Honduras. Some leaps that recognize good and evil; loves our neighbors enough to spurn a fawning press; and again gazes upon the Shining City on a Hill as the last, best hope for man.
Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Originally published @ Examiner.com, where all verification links may be accessed.