Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unanswered questions

“ … life really is worthwhile if in your autumn you can see realities which in the springtime would have surpassed all your dreams.”

John LaFarge SJ,The Manner is Ordinary”

Humanity is road kill on the information superhighway.


Many years ago I wrote a weekly newspaper column titled “Living the Questions,” a name I took from the Rilke quote posted on Dec. 20. I decided to title this blog “STILL Living the Questions” to make that connection with the past and because I have decided that answers will only come when one finds oneself in the world to come

A priest classmate once asked me when I was going to answer some of the questions I posed at that time. I still have none. Observations and a tendency to judge, perhaps, but mostly questions. Judgments aren’t any help either.

I come from a newspaper family. My dad was a newspaperman for 48 years. He was proud that he was a newspaperman rather than a journalist. His distinction was that the former were the professionals, the hard drinking, constantly smoking men and women who would rather be out in the street getting the story than sitting around a newspaper city room reading copy. The journalist was the academic who, it seemed to my dad, was more likely to remain in the office without getting his/her hands dirty.

My dad retired in 1987 and died in 1995. I do not hesitate to say that he would be a very disillusioned man if he could see the state of newspapers today.

Modern technology has killed life as we knew it and newspapers are among its largest casualties. It was inevitable. The technology of any new age kills life as it was known in the previous age. (Read “Hamlet’s Blackberry” by William Powers) Every age requires new styles and print no longer commands the respect it once had.

The problem though is that so much of what we find in modern technology is shallow and ignorant. Perhaps it was the same when print burst on the scene over 500 years ago. Perhaps that is always true when we are at the beginning of something new and different. Perhaps we are just used to some of the shallowness that we still find in print. Will we outgrow the shallowness? One would have hoped that as each age progresses, so would the transition from one medium to another. But, alas! It does not seem so!

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is from Ruth Holladay (ruthholladay.com), a former Indianapolis Star reporter. Among other things, Ruth often comments on the foibles of the dying press. It’s dying, however, because the focus is on profit making and profit taking, not in reporting the news. Her critiques, however, are pleas for compassion and humanity, for justice for readers as well as for newspaper employees. She carries a passion for truth as well. There is not really much in today’s media that cares for the truth. In fairness, I will have to say that even in my dad’s lifetime the goal was ‘getting the story’. I find, however, that there was a lot more fairness and honesty in getting the story then than seems to be today. Moreover, there often seems to be an inability on the part of many ‘journalists’ today to know just what is newsworthy as opposed to just what is entertainment.



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