I know I’m about to be a curmudgeon, which I hate to be, but I can’t help it. Last night I finished reading a wonderful book about the refugee experience, “What is the What” by Dave Eggers. The book is a powerful and detailed look into the lives of the “lost boys” of Sudan. It tracks one boy’s loss of family and home, his brutal journey across several African nations, and then to the U.S. to gain some decency in his life. It details torture, starvation, brutality, hypocrisy, apathy, and then, perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates the remarkable resiliency, hope and courage that people can and sometimes do achieve.
Then this morning, while at the gym, I saw three successive segments of CNN that really highlighted the triviality and empty values that we too often see in our otherwise wonderful country, and served as a stark contrast to Dave Eggers’ powerful story. First up was an interview with two “survivors” of the recently marooned cruise ship who detailed their suffering the indignity of having to eat a mélange of deli meats and other sandwich foods that were outrageously incompatible. This was followed by a story of hundreds of college students who raised funds for hunger charities by breaking the Guinness World’s record for pie throwing, and no doubt simultaneously broke the record for the world’s largest pile of now inedible food and wasted calories. Finally, the last segment covered a now viral You Tube video that captures the exploits of a group of young women attempting, with total effort, to run a hurdling race, with many of them falling flat on their face. As the video ended, with one young woman doubled over in humiliation, the CNN commentators giggled in the background, and I realized that the video was viral because it was seen as incredibly funny.
If you are looking to get a better perspective on the realities of our world, and what truly matters, stay with Dave Eggers, and perhaps watch a little less of CNN.
-Jerry Rubin, JVS President & CEO