Monday, June 20, 2011

“I feel good”
by John Alexander Madison
June 20, 2011

It pains me to think about, talk about or write about inefficiency in government, excessive government spending, our government living beyond our means, and self-serving, egomaniacal politicians on a regular basis. But I do so in an effort to engage you in the conversation in an effort to affect change. It does not make me feel good and it is somewhat depressing when we think about the “good old days” which I hope each and every one of us experienced.

Life seemed much less complicated “back then.” I am certain that 50 or 60 years ago or more there were terrible accidents around the world such as a bus in a remote region of a small country in South America which drove off a narrow, twisting, mountainous road killing all 23 people aboard. And there were certainly disgruntled citizens demonstrating in the streets when their local government imposed a new ban on their freedoms such as the imposition of a late night curfew. And no doubt there was a senseless murder of a shop keeper during a robbery gone badly, perhaps on a weekly basis, somewhere around the world. And, of course, there were hurricanes, typhoons, droughts and floods. Back in the “good old days,” however, we were not subjected to hearing about these incidents or atrocities almost instantaneously.

Fast forward to today, where the internet has changed the world and such occurrences are discussed by the talking heads on television and around office water coolers only moments after they occur. Gone are the days of playing in your yard or the nearby, lush green public parks without fear, or using your imagination to discover the wonders of the world around us. Everything is now spoon fed to us just as “they” want us to hear it directly from the boob tube.

Prior to television, reading and thoughtful/meaningful conversation were the primary channels through which one gained information and knowledge. But the television (“boob tube”) has been a game changer and many show disdain for this medium. A study conducted by Herbert Krugman found that while viewers are watching television the right side of the brain is twice as active as the left which causes a state of hypnosis. There can be other effects as well. Studies in both children and adults have found an association between the number of hours of television watched and obesity. A study found that watching television decreases the metabolic rate in children to below that found in children at rest. Author John Steinbeck describes television watchers:

"I have observed the physical symptoms of television-looking on children as well as on adults. The mouth grows slack and the lips hang open; the eyes take on a hypnotized or doped look; the nose runs rather more than usual; the backbone turns to water and the fingers slowly and methodically pick the designs out of brocade furniture. Such is the appearance of semi-consciousness that one wonders how much of the ‘message’ of television is getting through to the brain.”

Back in the day, news reporting was just that. We were given factual accounts of “who, what, when, where and how” events occurred. And opinions were limited to the editorial pages which, rightly so, were meant to generate agreement or dissent and, thereby, helped us all to develop critical thinking skills.

While it can be argued that television has provided many positive benefits and learning opportunities there is little doubt in my mind that Americans are being dumbed-down. And aside from the mind-numbing aspects of watching too much television others have written that TV watching and other sedentary activity is associated with greater risk of heart attacks. Politicians, scientists and parents have been debating the effects of television violence on viewers, particularly youth, for decades along with the impact of television on children's emotional and social development.

But I digress

This morning I feel particularly good. Why? Because yesterday was Father’s Day and I not only received a wonderful call from our daughter but I also got to speak a few words with our granddaughter as well. How great is that? And that followed the heartfelt Father’s Day card and accompanying gift- a two hour video of our granddaughter’s Baptism, first Christmas, first Easter, first birthday party and second family Thanksgiving celebration. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Step aside James Brown

If you think I see television as evil with no redeeming value you would be wrong.
On Father’s Day 2011, millions of viewers enjoyed a James Brown-type “feel good moment” as Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open Golf Championships at the tender age of twenty-two and immediately thereafter shared a heart-warming embrace with his father aside the 18th green. The story is now well-known how Rory’s dad, Gerry, worked 100 hour weeks for years to give his son the opportunity to pursue his dream. Talk about a feel good moment.

And immediately after Rory finished off his 6 inch put to seal a record-setting victory he said to his dad “Happy Father’s Day.” That was cool.


Rory McIlroy is a native of Northern Ireland, a country as beautiful as any yet in the world yet it has been torn apart by decades of political unrest. The unrest in Ireland (between Protestants and Catholics) dominated the news from the 1960s through the 1990s. And while there is hope for a lasting peace one can never be certain. Television, for better or for worse, will continue to bring us relentless, disturbing daily reports of all that is wrong in the world…the wars, the civil unrest and diverse values and beliefs among nations of the world…all that divides us.

There is good, bad and ugly in the world which surrounds us. I choose to focus on the good and things that we have in common.

Thanks to television June 19, 2011 brought the world together to focus on what really matters and what really matters is that which is closest to our hearts: our families, our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, and our grandchildren. I am grateful for the days designated to celebrate these relationships but the really good news is that if we so choose, we can make every day a celebration of all that is good in this world and the relationships we have.

In doing so, you too will be singing “I feel good.” #93

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