Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Justifiable anger is the dubious luxury of other people." *

I'm angry at the parties responsible for this dissonance in the world, but no as much as I was last week. There is empathy, too, for both sides in the conflict.

My family has multiple connections with both sides of the conflict, albeit some of them tenuous.

My anger has been tempered to a reasonable level. That is, I'm not irrationally angry, nor am I apathetic. Rather, I'm empathetic --or hope to be-- to see the affect that the actions of a few have had on so many, especially those powerless to alter the course of events all around them.

ABC News last night on Nightline gave a terribly inaccurate and biased report on the conflict in Lebanon. I haven't seen Nightline since Ted Koeppel left, and I'm not at all happy with what I saw. I don't know why ABC News even bothered. Some of the individual reporters may have well been giving the best information that they could personally obtain under the circumstances, but somebody back at the home office really dropped the ball. And that's being charitable. The impression was given that foreign tourists had the option of leaving the country, without noting that only one route was still open to them to escape the danger, and that that route, the highway to Damascus, was under repeated attack from Israeli fighter planes. As I understand it, the highway has actually been impassable for motor vehicles due to damage from the missiles, virtually closing it to all but wary foot traffic keeping one eye out for yet more incoming missiles.

I studied journalism in college in that post-Watergate era, when we were on fire with the notion of doing something noble for the greater good, not personal gain. I'm sure plenty of those people are still in the business; I'm also certain that anyone reading this can think of their own personal examples in recent years where members of the Fourth Estate have strayed from that ideal.

Since the crisis in Lebanon began last week, I have learned not to rely, sadly, on the American news media for my information. The Daily Star, Beirut's English language newspaper, and Lebanese bloggers ( have provided poignant, on the ground, reporting and information. Not all of it is professional or has a sense of detachment.

I had a text, actually, on how to maintain calm and perspective even in the middle of violence, which fortunately I've never had to use. I've been through civil unrest, natural disasters and found myself surrounded by hostile people that might have easily been encouraged to do me bodily harm. But nothing like actually reporting while under fire or expecting bombs to go off at any moment in a theatre of war. It's a hard job to do under the best of circumstances. And for the people trapped in Lebanon, separating rumor from fact is nigh impossible --even though it means life or death. From my vantage point, safely half a world away, I have the dubious luxury of recognizing that some information is created in a climate of hysteria or fear that seems plausible to the people repeating it, that ought to be not taken at face value.

So I'll keep reading and watching and listening. And hopefully, not yelling at the television quite as much. NPR this morning gave me reason for hope and a chance to breathe calmly and even enjoy hearing the news.

And I'll try to appreciate the paradise and calm that I live in (even if that reality is an illusion constructed to placate me).

* I might have gotten that quote slightly wrong, but I think you catch my drift.

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