Random thoughts for a Sunday morning….

The Sunday morning interview shows are focused on the GOP’s “identity crisis.” The New York Times has an article by the Public Editor about a not-dissimilar debate occurring within journalism over the meaning and possibility of “objectivity.” An academic listserv I participate in has a recurring discussion about the advisability of holding a new Constitutional Convention, or at least seriously considering significant constitutional changes. Various religious denominations are grappling with challenges to settled theological positions, including their beliefs about the role of women, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Educators are struggling to redefine both ends and means. Technology is changing everything from how we live to how we define friendship.

I could go on, but you get the picture. We live in an era when–as the poet put it– “the center will not hold.”

The existential question, of course, is: what will emerge from all this confusion and change? Will we take this opportunity to think about the “big” questions–what kind of society do we want to inhabit? What would a more just system look like? Aristotle was among the first to suggest that an ideal society would facilitate human flourishing; what would such a society look like?

Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that these “big” questions are being asked. Instead, we seem to be surrounded by quarrelsome adolescents, desperately trying to game the system and retain–or obtain–relative advantage.

I wonder what it would take to change the conversation?


  1. Breaking up monopolies in the communications industry would be a good starting point. The post 1996 telecommunications act world (thanks bill clinton) has in my humble opinion served only the corporatists, doing very little good for the average Joe. Unless you consider 200 bad television choices and an iPhone a great advancement for humanity.

    I believe that act solidified the Huxley view of the world, while at the same time eliminating the possibility of any ‘real news’ reaching the masses with credibility afforded a Cronkite reporter.

  2. Seems like Dostoyevsky had an observation about how grappling with the big questions was a passion of youth. As we age, the tendency is for our concerns to become much narrower.

  3. Bob, I don’t kow why people say that. There are tons of great networks out there. NASA has a channel,you have National Geographic, History Channel, A&E, C-Span, Nature, Education, Travel, Animal Planet etc. I have three channels devoted to local government. I probably have 60 wonderful educational channels on my TV at least. TV is far from being the vast wasteland it used to be. Anyone who is sitting around choosing to watch Jerry Springer is doing so because they chose to, not because there were no other choices available.

    As far as media monopolies, that’s pretty much going by the wayside on its own. The Internet is on its way to completely taking over TV and radio. Anyone can be a broadcaster these days.

  4. Paul has a good point about the vastness of tv these days. We have an antenna and computer hooked up to our flat screen. Whenever the over-the-air free stuff gets boring, we switch to the internet for tv viewing and we can pick and choose. It’s amazing what is out there for FREE. We gave up Direct-tv last March and haven’t missed the 100 bucks a month bill one bit and we’ve actually expanded our viewing to worldwide stations. When others start to follow us, the ‘freebie’ watchers, then the cable and dish companies will fold like a house of cards. I can’t wait to point and laugh at them. The cable companies, not the people like us that wised up and cut the cord and saved ourselves the 100 bucks a month!

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