Reading the Star Tribune this morning, I was, once again, reminded of why we have the kind of society we deserve. Inside the northmetro section, front page, is a 12-14 line (depending upon what you count) story entitled 23 WIN NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS. Twelve spartan lines and not one name of a winner. We are sent to the startribune website for that. National Merit Scholarship winners receive $500-$10,000 per year of undergraduate school with some receiving flat grants. It is a high honor recognizing sacrifice, self-discipline and personal responsibility. I certainly include here those student-scholars who may not be national merit scholars but exercise enormous self-control and personal responsibility to reach excellence in both the cognitive and physical arenas.
No, I am not blaming the newspaper, the media. That is too easy and requires little of me. The media is a business, not a public service organization. They provide their subscribers/ readers with what their readers want to read.
By comparison, the sports section is 8 full pages (per day)! Not a great lover of sports spectating, despite enjoying participating in them over the years, I don't get it. Here we get long columns describing details that shouldn't matter to anyone with a few videos to back the stories up on the startribune website. Reviewing the entire paper daily, I get depressed not because of the news but because the readers must want to know about the rapes, violence, fraud and deceit, sports scores and drug abuse, etc. more than they want to read the many stories that occur each and every day about people doing good work, helping their family and neighbors, building lasting community, and creating strong, positive role models for young people.
The fact that "the people" who read newspapers and watch t.v. news, with rare exceptions, prefer that tripe to stories about genome researchers trying to understand cellular and sub-sellular relationships to improve the human condition saddens me. What about the many Doctors who day in and day out help many thousands regain their health through joint replacement, physical disease treatment or mental health treatment? Wouldn't we all be better off with more knowledge of the good than the bad?
Once again, let me stress that I am for personal responsibility---that is, not the daily politics of blame, the one upmanship of sports (often creating anger in those watching) but rather that each of us is responsible for improving oursleves intellectually, spiritually, and physically. Once we get ourselves on that high road then we have an obligation to assist others in gaining their footing but not in judging them ior making them dependent. We have no obligation to make them like us or dependent on us or the state but rather in helping them become responsible for themselves.
The world improves one person at a time, starting with oneself. We will know we have arrived when we read long stories about the academic and social achievements of our young, middle-aged and old, and when we demand that our media provides us with stories of courage, personal responsibility, and self-discipline. They have provided us with what the majority want so if you want to blame someone, take a hard look in the mirror.