I’ve been in the news business for a long time. (My first big story was Ted Kennedy driving off the bridge at Chappaquiddick on July 18, 1969.) I’ve lived and breathed the news my whole adult life, so I know it’s always bad. Sure, we all do fun, entertaining features to lighten the load, but those of us in the business know that what you really want is the bad stuff. Every attempt to do a newspaper, magazine, TV show or radio station that offers only good news has gone bust.
So, when I sit down to do one of these posts, I’m inclined to focus on today’s bad news. Even that’s a challenge because there are so many choices, ranging from Iraq, to the V.A. scandal, to border security, to the economy, to grid-locked Washington to dead dogs in Gilbert. It’s pretty depressing.
But you know what? It’s been worse.
The Korean War began just after I was born. “War” is a misnomer. Congress never declared war, so it was technically a police action, but more than 36,000 American troops were killed, and more than 8,000 were listed as missing in action.
Total casualties topped 1.2 million.
I grew up during the Cold War under the constant threat of instant annihilation by the Soviet Union. Our strategy to avoid the nuclear apocalypse had the frighteningly ironic acronym of “MAD.” It stood for mutual assured destruction. The Soviet Union knew if they attacked first, we would still have the capacity to wipe them off the face of the earth, and we knew the same about them.
I was six when the Vietnam War began. At the height of our involvement in the late 60s and early 70s, we gauged our success by the daily body count. How many Commies did we kill today? By the time it was over in 1975, the total body count was impossible to measure accurately. One estimate puts it at 3.8 million. More than 58,000 American soldiers died.
I was 14 when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was 19 when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
Then there was Nixon and Watergate and the resignation in disgrace of a President of the United States, followed by the Iran hostage crisis during the Carter Administration. Ronald Regan gave us the Iran Contra affair.
(By the numbers, the Regan Administration was the most corrupt of the 20th century; 21 members of his administration were either tried and convicted or pled guilty to felony charges. Fun times for news junkies!)
Are we up to the beginning of your lifetime yet? I hope so, because they tell me you’re less likely to read a post that’s over 500 words, and I’m up to 463.
Here’s my message. As bad as things seem now, we’ll figure it out. We always do. Don’t give up. Keep things in perspective. Stay involved and engaged. Look for opportunities to be part of the solution. Don’t worry about hitting a home run, just get on base. The world will never be a perfect place because imperfect human beings run the place, so I live by these three words: Progress over perfection.