Pursuit of what???

The other night, I’m watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, not long after watching the story of Bob Woodruff, the ABC newsman injured in Iraq. So, I’m listening to Olbermann’s take on the day’s stories including the bombings in Iraq and the apparent assassination attempt on Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan and then the show cuts to commercial.  And this is what I hear: “All next week on the NBC Nightly News: an indepth look at The Pursuit of Happiness.”

Hubba-wha?

Imagine the contrast: first, an hour show that begins with a healthy human with all his faculties who is, within seconds, nearly dead. We hear the story of the weeks-long coma and how the doctors told the family that he may never wake up, or he may never speak again. We watch as the man wakes and relearns to speak.

Then we watch him interview soldiers and the families of soldiers who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan who have suffered similar brain injuries. In one scene you see a group of these soldiers and their families in a room, a support group for those with brain injuries and those who love them. At one point, Woodruff asks one soldier to tell him what is different now than it was before the injury.

You can see the kid (and I’ll say kid because, to me, that was what he was) struggling to find the right words, to try to answer the question he’s been asked, because the words just don’t come as easily post-brain trauma as they did before. And then, very quietly, the kid says “It sucks.”
And there’s this moment when the whole room takes a beat to actually hear what the kid said, and then there is laughter from everyone in the room. Woodruff high-fives the kid and says something like “I hear you on that.”

Then we are told about the great treatment these soldiers are getting at this particular hospital that is so familiar with brain trauma, but that once the soldiers are released, well, the care just ain’t up to par for injuries like these. Not every VA hospital in rural or even urban areas has seen or has experience with helping soldiers with these types of injuries recover and rehabilitate. The quality of care for some, in a word, “sucks.”

And early in that hour, one of the doctors makes a statement that I think we all know but pretend we don’t: we have thousands of soldiers coming home with trauma like this and thousands more coming home with other serious, serious injuries.

So, I’ve watched this story and I’m watching a news-ish program, and it is in this frame of mind that I hear:  “All next week on the NBC Nightly News: an indepth look at The Pursuit of Happiness.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of happiness. In fact, I recommend the pursuit of it to just about anyone and everyone.

But when the world seems to be imploding, is this the kind of thing we want our mainstream media to be looking at in their usual shallow way, let alone in depth?

The pursuit of happiness? Really? Is that what you all are interested in right now?

How about the pursuit of peace? Or the pursuit of an energy policy that doesn’t have us jumping through hoops to feed our insatiable need for oil? Or the pursuit of quality health care for everyone?

How about it, America? I betcha find happiness along the way.

(originally published in the Gary Post-Tribune, 03/04/07)

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About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at www.tinalbporter.com. And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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