“There are whole societies where unpleasant news doesn’t make the local papers.”

A friend of mine confided that he has been profoundly disheartened by the uproar around the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.  This past week has seen trade sanctions, boycotts, riots, and a lot of hurt feelings worldwide.  My friend says that sometimes, he just wants to turn of the TV, close the newspapers, and tune out.  The news is too depressing to take.  I think we all feel that way sometimes.  We know ignorance is the wrong answer, but it’s tempting, all the same.  Here’s what I wrote to him:

It’s that lack-of-knowledge about the outside world that leads to those embassy riots, Jon.  There’s a scene in the movie The Matrix , where Keanu Reeves says, “My eyes hurt,” and Laurence Fishburne's character replies, “That’s because you’re using them for the first time.”

A lot of those rioting Muslims you see on TV are using their eyes for the first time.  They’ve gone through life wearing a thin blindfold, and it just got ripped away.  That's why they’re in so much pain, and why they’re so angry.  It seems unthinkable in this day and age, but there are whole societies, whole countries, even, where unpleasant news simply doesn’t make the local papers.  Local radio is state-run peaches-and-cream, with traffic on the ’nines.

There are Ministers of Information and Morality Advisory Boards and The Great Firewall of China and other such crap.  Not everybody has satellite radio and broadband Internet, and even those communication technologies won’t help you put things in a global context if the only language you can speak or read is Farsi, or Aramaic, or Cantonese.  How many Jordanians speak Danish?

page <  1  2  3  >