Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting the picture

2/18/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Getting the picture

We all like good news. It makes us happy and hopeful. No one likes bad news. It would be nice if we could just ignore the barrage of negative stuff coming across the airwaves. Nice but not realistic. Currently, a respected television anchorman is under fire and in danger of losing his job for not being completely truthful. Here in Ore. our governor has been under fire for ethics violations and resigned under pressure.

On the International scene we have constant, overwhelmingly bad news of undeclared warfare: kidnappings, mass killings, property destruction and starvation. Like you, I have many questions but no answers about these power plays and atrocities. We can’t ignore this stuff nor can we solve the problems. What do we do?

Shortly after the Brian Williams hubbub broke loose, a “Blondie” cartoon caught my eye. It gave me a little perspective on human nature. The scene: It’s a snowy day. Dagwood and his friend Herb are briskly walking to work. Their conversation goes like this:

Dagwood:  “Days like this remind me of being on the veranda at The Grand Hotel in Fiji.”
Herb: “When was that?” (Silence)
Dagwood: “Well, technically, this reminds me of a photo I saw in a travel magazine a long time ago…but you get the picture.”

Well, I get the picture about Williams. All of us from time to time tend to embellish the facts. Maybe it’s shaving a few years off our age. Making our job description sound more important than it is. Coloring our hair. Upping our school GPA. Making our children sound like brainiac angels or whatever. You get the idea. We all do it.

NBC anchorman Brian Williams belatedly confessed that he embellished being in a helicopter hit by a grenade in 2003. Actually, it was the helicopter ahead of his that was hit. Oops! Now Williams has been suspended for 6 months without pay and it remains to be seen if he will come back as anchorman. I doubt it.

Frankly, I did not lose any respect for him over this. I believe that initially he was caught up in the moment and that it may have felt like his chopper was hit. Unfortunately, he never clarified his initial statement with the truth. Millions of viewers will not calculate that the majority of his career has been honest and straight arrow. They have lost complete trust in him due to this falsehood (and possibly others).

Oregon’s Gov. John Kitzhaber’s personal and political life has been under fire for months. His fiancĂ©, Cylvia Hayes served as the state’s first lady. As a paid consultant outside government, it was alleged that her relationship with the governor was helping her land contracts for her business. This, among other things, chipped away at his credibility. At first the governor refused all calls to resign, saying, “I have broken no laws.” He abruptly resigned Feb. 13, stating he had become a liability to the office. No doubt there is more to come.

The above battles are mostly political. They are sad situations but not hopeless. All concerned will emerge with their egos bruised and battered but live to work again. There are solutions. The following scenarios are real life and death battles. Wanton killing and power grabs characterize many areas of the world.

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a huge topic of concern all around the world. This barbaric terrorist group is trying to establish a conservative Islamic state to encompass the Arab world. An empire. They financed their war against Infidels by taking over Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq and seizing more than $400 million from city banks to bankroll their evil empire.

How evil are they? Well, women and children who did not fit the mold were their first victims. The United Nations reported ISIS systematically killing, torturing and raping the families and children of minority groups in Iraq. Their methods included mass executions of boys, reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive. 

ISIS’ goal is to rule the entire world by fear. Their horrific beheading of hostages from the United States was followed by the gruesome beheadings of Japanese hostages and immolation of a Jordanian pilot captive. ISIS loves publicity and toys with the captives’ family emotions. The young American woman who was evidently ‘given’ to their leader was still killed. The end is always death. That’s evil.

And what is really going on in the Ukraine? I get it but I don’t get it. Thanks to Vladimir Putin and Russia’s land grab history, Russian troops and tanks are pulverizing buildings in the Ukraine. Helpless citizens are living underground in rubble and starvation. Why is Putin doing this?  Because he can. He’s power hungry. Can anyone stop the madness? Nope. No one wants to start a war with nuclear-armed Russia. That’s the way it looks to me. What do you think?

“The world is going to hell in a hand basket” (i.e. deteriorating rapidly) was one of my dad’s frequent comments during times of war and economic hardship. Looking at the events of this era I can only agree that things don’t look good. The hope is that future generations will serve and not destroy their fellow humans.

In that spirit, I offer this perspective from the comic “Beetle Bailey”:

Beetle: “I don’t get it…mankind has been at war since the beginning of time. What’s wrong with mankind? Why can’t we get smart and figure it out?”
Soldier: “Because every 30 years there’s a new mankind.”

Now I get the picture.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.