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—— Forwarded Message From: Dan Cox Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 13:27:53 -0700 (PDT) To: me [at] ianbell [dot] com Subject: Great article – check it out….

> Body counts and head counts
> 9/14/01
> San Francisco Chronicle
> By Jon Carroll
>
> PHIL BRONSTEIN, THE executive editor of The
> Chronicle, sent out a memo
> Wednesday about emotions. He mentioned that
> journalists tend to bury their
> emotions while covering a tragedy, and said this was
> not a good thing for
> either the journalist or the journalism. He said
> that if people were feeling
> overwhelmed, there was a number to call, a place to
> go.
> What interested me about the memo was that it did
> not track very well with
> my own emotions. I was not feeling overwhelmed or
> teary; neither was I
> feeling stoical or brave. I was mostly feeling
> confused, which is an emotion
> of the head rather than the heart.
>
> Of course, I lost no loved ones in the tragedy. I
> have no close friends who
> lost loved ones. I am saddened by the tragedy and
> heartened by the acts of
> heroism great and small, but in a generalized way. I
> do not feel less secure
> than I did three days ago, perhaps because I never
> feel secure.
>
> My early life did not have a lot of security in it.
> I expect the worst in
> all situations. Every sunrise is a miracle. Every
> failure to meet violence
> with more violence is a surprise. Blessed are the
> peacemakers, because there
> are not a lot of them and usually they get blamed
> for everything.
>
> And I am a child of the media. I was alone a lot as
> a child, through no
> fault of my overworked single mother, and my
> companions were radio and
> television and books. I learned, for my own sanity,
> to distinguish between
> the real world and the media world and to treat them
> with different levels
> of seriousness.
>
> I saw the World Trade Center collapse. I saw the
> White House blow up. Both
> of those events were on a television screen. I
> understand that one was
> “real” and one was “just a movie,” but I have
> learned to distrust those
> distinctions. I have been lied to by presidents and
> press secretaries and
> financial experts, but Kevin Kline has always told
> me the truth. Is a lie
> about the real world better than the truth about an
> unreal world?
>
> I don’t know the answer to that question. I know
> better than to stake my
> heart on either one. My wife, my children, my
> parents, my friends — that is
> the world in my heart. Everything else is knowledge,
> speculation,
> entertainment, art. They go to my brain first, and
> my brain is a suspicious
> gatekeeper.
>
> I DISTRUST FACILE mourning. I consider it an
> artifact of manipulation. It is
> unexamined and disproportionate. On April 30, 1991,
> 139,000 people were
> killed by a cyclone in Bangladesh. They were mothers
> and fathers and
> children; they were heroes and fools and poets and
> thieves. I recall no
> candlelight vigils — indeed, I do not recall the
> event at all. I had to
> look it up.
>
> I imagine the president sent a pro forma letter of
> regret. I imagine that he
> did not spend a minute thinking about those people.
> If human loss is the
> yardstick by which we measure our pain, we should
> have the date burned into
> our brains. It’s in the previous paragraph; can you
> recall it without
> looking back?
>
> I AM FRUGAL with my grief because grief can be
> manipulated. I am seeing the
> president do it now. This is a cowardly act, he has
> said again and again,
> although “cowardly” is exactly the wrong adjective
> to describe the
> hijackers. They were brave. It would be good to
> understand what made them
> brave. Self- sacrifice is always interesting, since
> it runs so contrary to
> our most basic instincts. “Cowardly” would be a good
> word to describe our
> waging of the war in Kosovo, or our current bombing
> runs in Iraq. I am a
> patriotic American, besotted with the Constitution,
> but I do not think our
> foreign policy is wise or just.
>
> We should retain our privacy now, I think; work on a
> human scale; remember
> that a politician is most dangerous when he is
> announcing that something is
> “beyond politics.”
>
> It is best to hide your heart, because the world is
> full of thieves.
>

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