Letter from America

Despite what you’ve seen or heard in Think Magazine and on the news lately, America is not what some fanatics would make it out to be…

Yes, there are the few loose nuts who made the headlines lately with their rants and the rather frightening and unreasoned blabbering. Please just ignore them. Unfortunately, our media (notably our TV media) is constantly and desperately seeking to outdo each other in being the first to air the latest exciting news.

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In doing so, some networks have opted for sensationalism and have forgotten what journalism is all about informing the public of worthwhile news and analyzing, printing or airing topics that are important for the welfare of the nation and the general public. Topics get old very quickly on a 24-hour TV news cycle and there are insufficient breakthroughs in medical research, weather and climate changes, development of new technologies, etc., to fill up the air time. In their desperation to stay exciting in order to grab a bigger viewership and more advertising dollars, they have resorted to giving voice to attention seekers of all sorts. Consequently, more and more TV “news” programs have taken on a tabloid characteristic. If you are not one to fall for the “exposes” in supermarket tabloids, you shouldn’t fall for all the sensational news items on TV channels either.

Please, look beyond the obvious. I am a hundred percent sure that if you take a closer look, you will find that there are, in reality, many times more sane people than the insane ones. It is just that the sane ones aren’t as vocal or they find it harder to get the media’s attention. On TV, sane and normal are not as audience captivating as the wild and unbelievable. TV show producers love the “exotic” acts those who would do anything to get their five minutes of fame in front of a camera. What’s better for the networks’ bottom line than if they don’t have to pay for those acts?

Freedom has a price and democracies are messy but the alternatives are oftentimes worse. America has shown and continues to show its true heart and compassion when disasters strike in other countries. With little hesitation, Americans jump in to help rescue and treat victims of earthquakes, Tsunamis, floods, AIDS, and other disasters.

Because we’re essentially a mixed bag of immigrants from all over the world, anytime a disaster happens in some corner of the world, we feel it and we feel engaged and involved. Although we are American citizens, we treasure the heritage and culture of the countries that we or our parents or their parents came from. We are a nation of workers and our lives are not very different from yours. We love our children like you do yours: we clothe and feed them, we send them off to school and we hug them and kiss them goodnight when bedtime comes.

The early settlers in America had left their homeland for the new world so that they could practice their faith free from the oppressive powers that controlled Europe back then and, when America became an independent nation, the founding fathers of the nation followed that same instinct and spirit of freedom and the authors of the US Constitution entrenched in it certain fundamental rights for all Americans, including the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the freedom to petition. As a result of such freedoms, we can express our dissent without fear of arrest and incarceration. Those freedoms, as you may have noted, are essentially freedoms of expression and do not extend to include acts of violence.

We can’t really silence the few individuals who are vocal and whose incantations are welcomed by the media. We can only seek to expose their falsehood and lies by speaking out (or writing) against them, arguing our case with facts and good logic. Exercising those same freedoms, some Americans voice their opposition to the offensive speeches through counter demonstrations and marches. Sadly, there are also those who are in positions of influence and responsibility who choose to remain silent instead of bringing a reasoned voice to the debate.

We make mistakes (hopefully not too often) and we try to remedy them. We do our best to learn from our mistakes and we try not to repeat them. Sometimes we succeed and other times we fail but we don’t give up on trying. When we fail, we laugh at ourselves and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We cry over the loss of a loved one and we sympathize with others who have experienced a personal loss. We are excited at the success of someone we know and we root for the ‘underdog’ who is trying to beat the odds and come out on top.

Our hope is that you will not listen to the few fanatics and false prophets who would exploit the sensitivities of others for their own glorification. Don’t give credence to them or use the mindless words of the few crazies against all Americans. Our appeal to you is to tune them out, just as you would tune out those among you who seek only to provoke and to incite others to no good.

REMEMBER: Not everything you see on TV or read on the Internet is real. Be sure that there is a hidden plot or lots of clever editing to keep the viewers or readers enthralled. Just as you have learned to discern what’s real and what’s not on “Reality TV” shows, you must apply the same thought logic to what you see or hear on the news.

“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy-keep thinking about these things.” Paul to the Philippians

Your friend, America

To read more from HohKoon AuYeong, please visit: http://wordswitandwisdom.blogspot.com. Illustration by James Cosgrove.