Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 4: A Chriea Of Edward Murrow

Edward R. Murrow said of the television, “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box".

Mr. Edward Murrow, as many know, was a gripping orator who bravely defended his country through his ability to speak the truth. He strove hard for the continuation of freedom in our country and abroad and was greatly rewarded for his efforts.

He argued that the television is just as useful as you make it.

How is this the case? First, one must define one's terms. Today, the word “television” is simultaneously used to describe both the mechanical device and the programs which that device offers (cable, satellite TV, network TV etc.). In Edward Murrow's day, however, they were virtually the same. All one could do with one's television was watch the programs provided.

Television allows people to access an entire universe of material from the comfort of their living rooms. There are many instructional, educational and simply beneficial results of this access. For example, there is “The History Channel”, “The Learning Channel”, and similar channels that air informational programs, the facts gained from which are very interesting. Television has the potential to be “good”, if used correctly.

Now, there are many who condemn television (the surplus of programs watched through one's television) as being simply a waste of time. They say that no matter how it is used, television is bad. The medium is the message. Despite any possibly valuable information, the concept of staring at one's TV in an attempt to learn makes you dumb.

Watching TV is like lifting weights. If one lifts weights correctly, one can gain much by doing so. However, if one lifts them incorrectly, one can damage one's self and can be forever hindered from lifting correctly again.

To use Mr. Murrow as an example, his show entitled “See it now” helped tremendously to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy and to end the “Red Scare”. Murrow won partly because he knew how to use television, while Senator McCarthy did not.

Since television is still relatively a new idea, there is not much to be said in testimony of it. The concept was ground breaking and still now remains astounding. However, Arnold J. Toynbee said “As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is up to us.”

And so, even though television is often now ridden with filth, it still has the potential that Mr. Murrow gave to it. It still can be advantageous to humanity, if humanity learns how to use it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 3: Annie Dillard: Painter of Reality

Annie Dillard. I don't know much about authors and the recognition they gain. I don't know what about an author's resume makes him or her impressive. But, despite my ignorance, Ms. Dillard impresses me. She has a style which is all her own. Her way with words, and the way in which she meanders about the page in a flowing and constant manner intrigues me and makes me think about my own writing skills. My tendency is to veer to extremes: either to be ostentatious to the point of gagging, or to be brief to the point of boredom. I am not like Annie Dillard. She is like a creek, like one of the creeks near my house, no doubt like the creeks near Puget Sound.
When I first began to read her, I thought her style was strange. Unique, yes, but I didn't think it was particularly clever, just strange. But she can paint literal pictures with such beauty. When you read her, you don't read about things, you sense things: you see the bird in Small's mouth, you see poor Julie Norwich, you hear the plane crash, you feel the ocean mist.
Her subjects she writes about are close to home. Puget Sound sounds like Greenville. Their airport reminds me of Quincy's, or Chester's. It's as if she was talking about something which happened here. She creates a dream about the land I live in. She brings a painting before me and then pushes invites me in. I become part of her story.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 2: Eyes of Bright Sadness

Who is Shrabat Gula, and why is she looking at me so? That stare, that deep stare which has captured the eyes of so many others over the past twenty years, what makes it so enchanting? Not enchanting in a romantic sense, but puzzling, bewitching. The image of her is an image which one cannot erase from one's brain. It etches itself upon my consciousness, haunting my thoughts. The photograph shows only her face, but what is it in that face? It's the face of a twelve year old girl, it can't be that special. But it is. It is the face of humanity, the face of a fallen breed.

She's poor. She was part of the Pashtun tribe, one of the most warlike and barbaric in all of Afghanistan. She was orphaned at a young age and sent to live in a refugee camp. But you don't need a biography to know most of this. You can guess simply by looking at her face. There is dirt on her chin and forehead, testifying to the hardship of her life. Her skin is dark from a life in the desert, subject to torment by a cruel, hot sun. Her hair is ruffled and matted. Hair which is not used to luxury. Hair which has never known the feel of the shampoos our women use here. It is not American hair. It is wild, it is exotic.

The shawl wrapped around her head is tattered around the edges, again proclaiming her poverty. it too has been faded from the harsh sun. But is compliments her. The photograph would not be nearly as powerful as it is without the vibrant red of that shawl. It sets the stage, and tells the viewer that the subject of this photograph is not of our culture. She is not of our world. The photographer was lucky to catch her without her face covered, something that is completely foreign to the American mind. Our women take pride in their looks. I don't condemn that, but the Muslims would. If Sharbat had been photographed without a shawl at all, the image would be lost. It would be devoid of culture, simply another photograph of a girl.

But what makes this image so powerful? What is it about this piece that makes it so memorable? Her eyes. Those brilliant, green eyes. Eyes which pierce into your soul. Eyes which make you look at her, as she is looking at you. Her earthly face is beautiful in it's own right, but you can't turn away with those emeralds shining out from her weathered complexion. Like the jewels they are, they grab you attention and leave you spellbound, unable to look away. They are the eyes of hope. they pierce through the darkness, and the pain, and the harshness seen so obviously on this girl's face, and they let the world know that the human spirit is still very much alive. They are sad, because they have seen pain, but they are bright, because they have also seen salvation: refuge in a broken country, culture within the wilderness. These eyes know that the pain in life can help to highlight what pleasure we find. These eyes make us realize that, as we sit and stare at her face surrounded by comfort and technology, we are flattening the hills and valleys of our lives, making them as uninteresting as they are lazy. These eyes tell us the wisdom that most of us Americans will never be able to learn for ourselves.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I'm beginning The Thursday Post. Each Thursday, I'll put up an essay from school which I did well on, or one that I really enjoyed writing, or both. This way, I can get back into the blogosphere and post on a regular basis. Enjoy!


The Thursday Post: Week 1: Rugby vs. Soccer

Would that soccer was so great a sport as rugby. Soccer is a grand sport, but when compared rugby, it sadly falls short. Though agility, precision and all around strength necessary to play any sport, they are needed, and used, much more in rugby than in soccer.
Agility? Is not the ability to run, and to run well, dodging opponents and using one's feet gracefully at the very heart of soccer? Indeed, soccer does require agility, but (as already mentioned), mainly in the feet. The entire sport revolves around the players feet (unless, of course, you are the goalie, which is but one position out of nearly a dozen). In a non-physical way, soccer also requires agility of the mind, in order that the players might think concisely and cleverly, but that is true of all sports. While Rugby also requires agility of the feet and the mind, it requires agility of the hands and the entire upper body, for all players. One must be able to catch and pass with one's hands, in addition to kicking and running.
Precision is another ability required in all sports, but more so in rugby than in soccer. Again, this is due to the fact that much more of one's body is required in rugby than in soccer. In rugby, one must be precise with ones arms and hands in addition to his feet and legs. But, yes other than the addition of the upper body in rugby, the need for precision in both sports is virtually the same: the players must pass (though passing is different in either sport), run, kick, dodge and dive with accuracy and precision. This, it seems, is a commonality between the two.
Again, with the addition of the upper body in rugby, the need for strength is all the greater. Yes, soccer players are terrific athletes, I have a long way to go before I could be one of them. But, (ad infinitum) their main need for strength is in their legs. That is what carries them through the game. Ruggers, however, tend to be much more aggressive, and need all of the precious arm and torso strength that they can muster, in addition to their leg strength.
Over all, the two sports are very similar, perhaps because of the history that these two sports have shared. But, in my humble opinion, rugby is much more advanced. Rugby is soccer, evolved into a higher, more intense form of athleticism. The addition of the upper body in rugby forms the stark contrast between these two honorable games, and it is that contrast which throws a bright light upon the winning choice.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sonnet #1

I wish I knew why world moves so fast,

I can hardly seem to keep myself afloat.

(I) Know these bitter times, they cannot last,

(But) It seems as if I fell into a moat.

Do not dare think that I would sink to say

I would that I could shake this mortal coil

No, no, I'm not so sad at heart as they

who seem to think they could the devil foil.

What do I do to ease the pain of this,

this busy life, which rushes by with speed

as if it had great Hermes wings which kiss

the sky with grace, as it on wind does feed.

And though this frail frail life does pass me by,

I know that somewhere, up there in the sky,

God has his eye on me.

Stay tuned for "The Thursday Post", coming as soon as I'm able to make it happen.


The Creator