Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014
Linda Downing

Be careful about connections


Published:

“I see more interconnectedness than separation,” Steve McCurry, world-travelling photographer, says. He has seen it all — from awe-inspiring nature to war zones. Armed with a camera that has telescopic powers, he cannot be accused of wearing rose-colored glasses.

And yet, he espouses a doctrine that is true only on the most basic level, such as our shared needs for air, food, water, and even love. Beyond the lens, the focus on whom and with what we align wipes out interconnectedness. Examples abound.

By now, any thinking person has relegated reality TV to the world of Neanderthals. The same words used by scientists studying the so-called kinship of those illusive beasts to modern humans — “may have coexisted,” “high probability,” “puzzling” — may be used in years to come by those who wonder how intelligent humans could so long mistake lies for truth.

Interconnectedness to Neanderthals? Let us hope not. Yet, Charles Passy, writing for The Wall Street Journal recently, felt he must tell us that reality TV “involves a fair amount of fakery.” He added, “Watching us can be hazardous to your mental health,” and unwittingly substantiated what Neanderthal scientists think — that “at least some interbreeding took place.”

Cosmopolitan sophistication does not guarantee discernment. Catey Hill, writing for The Wall Street Journal in early August, said that even though wine drinking in America is up by 15 percent since 2005, our ability to tell the good stuff from the bad, the expensive from the cheap, is almost nil. Accusations of “wino” or “glutton” are likewise out; we are now wine connoisseurs and foodies.

Believing lies for the sake of cultural connections or for cementing ties that bind is a brain and soul killer. Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her award-winning role in the 2009 film “Precious,” said “If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable.”

Sidibe’s search-and-fight way works if the cause is worthy rather than just weird. The Persian Gulf’s most liberal city, Dubai, refused to allow Rolf Buchholz entrance in mid-August, despite his holding the Guinness world record for body piercings — 453, including on his face and genitals. Buchholz’ shock tactics to be included in the entertainment of the Cirque le Soir Dubai offended the natives who know a Neanderthal when they see one.

The Chicago Tribune defended President Obama’s taking a vacation, i.e., returning to the golf course a few minutes after his television appearance regarding the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Saying the world is always in crisis, they used the every-man-needs-a-break argument.

It falls short; the president is not every man. His is a sacred trust calling for wisdom; the job rules out aligning himself with every man. “If a wise man has an argument with a foolish man, the fool only rages or laughs and there is no rest” (Proverbs 29:9). Obama appears to have both the wise and the foolish vying for his attention. Interconnectedness here only leads to chaos. No wonder the world is beginning to view America as a giant reality show.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together — side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.

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