by joe courter
I’m an admitted media junkie and probably wouldn’t be in the position of writing this if I wasn’t. But for me it goes beyond just trying to keep myself informed; I strongly believe in giving other people the tools to be more informed, too.
Back in 1977, UF Anthropology professor Dr. MJ Hardman drafted me into writing the monthly meeting announcement for the Humanist Society of Gainesville. That grew into a newsletter of sorts and was then rolled into the founding of this publication in 1986.
The early ‘90s saw the initial meetings that led to the founding of the Civic Media Center in 1993, and I was there, too, serving as its first coordinator, and still today am heavily involved as an active volunteer and Board member.
I jotted a quote from a speaker I heard on NPR last month on a piece of scrap paper I keep handy in my vehicle, which I found a couple days ago. I did not note who said it, as I was driving at the time, but I thought it captured something very basic to me and my efforts with both the Iguana and the CMC (two separate entities that share me, I remind you all). It was just seven words but it captured the heart of my motivation: “If you don’t know, you can’t care.”
We live in an information revolution of astounding proportions, and the responsibility is on each of us to pick from that vast menu the stuff we choose to put in our heads, the stuff that will shape our worldview and our interactions with the world. We still only have a limited amount of time to take in what we do, and the temptation to choose, shall we say, empty calories is great. Our mainstream culture spews a frightening array of crap at us that we internalize, as a number of surveys amply demonstrate.
This severely affects our role as informed citizens in the process of our participatory democracy. Especially now, with our political process so corrupted by corporate power, more and more people are looking to escape the bad news, and get sucked into all kinds of readily proffered distractions.
Folksinger Roy Zimmerman has a new song out which really resonated with me (find him on YouTube). Called “Hope, Struggle and Change,” in its very clever Roy way, it addresses how in 2008 we left out that middle word which is at the heart of how the process of making the world a better place happens. We need to know our history, recognize our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and do our bit.
The powers-that-be are happy to have us distracted, to not pay attention or know what’s going on, because there are a lot of us, and if we all started to care, they might not be able to just roll us over.
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