Thank God for Ordinary Folk – originally posted July 2, 2009

I’ve been spending more time in the car than usual lately, and that has exposed me to the top of the hour news. By the end of last week my outlook on the world was pretty bleak.

You might think that news of repression in Iran, threats from N. Korea and the House of Representatives passing an awful cap and trade bill were the source of my unease, but I barely heard of those. Judging by the time devoted to each story and the order of discussion, Mark Sanford’s affair and Michael Jackson’s death were clearly the most important events of the week.

How depressing. First of all, how can we have an informed electorate and make knowledgeable judgments when not only entertainment but the information media panders to our lowest impulses? Secondly, doesn’t hearing about talented people, in any arena, who destroy their lives through their own bad choices leave us cynical and pessimistic?

It does me, at least for a passing moment. Even if it is too far-fetched to expect wisdom, I would like to believe that our elected officials are both well intentioned and good. Good in my book does mean faithfulness in marriage and whether it is John Edwards, John Sanford or the scores of others who can be held up as disappointments, my guess is that betraying your marriage vows is more widespread among the political elite of our country than among the general population. As for our public servants being good in their public lives and well intentioned, the week’s news included Monica Conyers, wife of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pleading guilty to bribery. Somehow, I don’t feel this is an isolated incident. And I suspect that the poorly reported passage of the cap and trade bill, a bill that was never read by those who voted on it, had little to do with good intentions or wisdom and more to do with greed and power grabbing and political calculation.

Michael Jackson’s life represents a different type of tragedy. Few people are born with the musical talent that he had. Can you appreciate his giftedness without peering into his tormented life? Yes. But, when all is said and done, his talent doomed rather than blessed him. Not exactly an uplifting thought. The adoration of millions added up to nothing.

We are in a new week and the desperate need for fresh headlines will push those of last week off the front page. Meanwhile, millions of people whose names will never be known outside their immediate circles are faithful in their marriages, honest in their transactions, and fulfilled in their lives. As America enters her 233rd year, that is the meaningful, gladdening and good news that doesn’t make the top of the hour broadcast.


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