Friday, September 07, 2012

From Hatred to Love. And Hope.

As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit.(Seneca)

Before you start shooting now, just remember: the last words here are “love” and “hope”. So, it’s all good. And I am now all reformed! Or about to be.

So, I used to absolutely hate NPR! I know, I know – but remember: no shooting, yet. The slow pace of the reporting, the old voices, the sentiment that their topics are always so serious, so grim, so dry. No “juice” coming out of NPR. No sensationalism. Just pure, dry enunciation. I could never really fully admit that the topics were as much “boring”, but I had zero patience for the style of reporting they do. So I would nix the station simply on the format with no regard to the substance!

All this changed when I moved to Utah, and my commute has bloated to more than an hour one way, at times. The radio options are pretty slim here. You have a couple of “standard” FM radio stations, classic rock, country, this-and-that “new” music, and your local talk radio, which is owned by the LDS church – biased, misinformed, sensationalist, predicting the end of the world almost every half hour and totally embarrassing, at times.

But luckily, there is NPR. One day, forced into a corner by all the poor choices on all the other stations, I switched to it on my lunch break, which I took sitting in my car, at the time. They had an author on, Janet Reitman, talking about her book “Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion”. 

That was the first sip of the kool-aid in this dry media desert. I was hooked – by the information, and depth of the discussion and by how much more informed and enlightened I felt. I could not go back to work! I was in a trance. 

Almost a year later, after listening to many a programs on music, communism, mating of snails, politics, contests of livestock auctioneers, Kosher food, a variety of social discussions, I can say I am quite getting used to this little gem of programming speaking softly, and still slow, from my dashboard. 

They are sometimes biased, and a little annoyingly conservative, at times (after all, they are human, and Americans, you know!), but they keep it interesting! They tackle topics that scholarly college professors would tackle and you feel a bit elated by rising above the ordinary with their observations on people, life, religion, etc. They keep me learning! And boy, I have so much to learn, still – as we all do, of course! They keep the Alzheimer’s away (I hope), as they challenge my attention, my opinions, my brain. 

I am not in the mood for it all the time, as a true fan would be, but I always feel more intelligent (really) after I listen to them. And I keep coming back, every day, as to my supply of “smart pills”.  

I love that they use good grammar and full sentences, that they say “I have given” instead of “I have gave”. They use words like “connubial” and “bacchanalia”, which were so dusty, back in the back of my gray matter, somewhere. I smile, drive along and feel a few minutes, a few words smarter. I am finally so happy that they are there for me, to fill my empty commute time with interest, culture and insight. Man, how we need this kind of solid, timeless education for our young folks! Away from the poisons of today’s cheap and cheesy entertainment and reality junk that ruins our society! 

One thing that still puzzles me: NPR is sponsored, amongst others, by … The Poetry Foundation.  First question is: wow! In the era of The Jersey Shore, in America, we still have a poetry foundation, and apparently, they have money?! The second one is: do they have enough to sponsor anything?! One art supporting another tells me that all might not be lost in the human world. At least not yet! 

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