Pre-Ramble: You’d have to live in a cave to not know that Aaron Sorkin’s new game-changer show “Newsroom” premiered last night on HBO ( … of course, if your cave is wired for cable, you’re in the know).
Apparently, the Newsroom “is the most important drama to make it to television in years … ” … It grapples with the issue of “how crucial an informed public is to democracy” and poses weighty issues that seem to be less resonant with 21st century Americans who are “are less civically engaged than in previous decades.”
One of the main characters is described idealistically as one who believes that she can change things …
“[She] harkens back to an era where it was more civilized and chivalric, a time when people did ask difficult questions, but in a way that was classy … and she is sort of crazy to think like that, but that’s what it takes to change things … ”
Disconnect - While I haven’t had a chance to watch the show yet (recorded it), all this talk about democracy, particularly the week before the Fourth of July, has got me to thinking. I’ve been thinking back to the second term of the George W’s presidency, after 9/11 had started to scar over. It was like there was this disconnect between what was happening in Washington and what was happening in the lives of everyday Americans (whatever that means). I felt like I was standing on the National Mall screaming up at the Capitol building …
“Hey … you guys in there … It’s us — We the People … Can you hear us? What’s going on in there? What are you doing? What’s up with this huge, unrelenting war agenda? Do you know what we want? … for our families and our lives? Do you know what our hopes and dreams are? Do you care?”
Well, so then, when we had an opportunity to be heard … to bring our Audacity of Hope for ourselves and our communities to the fore … did we step up to talk about things? Did we initiate conversations about things that matter to us … beyond banging Tea cups or Occupying the streets to whine and complain and disrupt?
Even random former disruptors are coming to the realization that there needs to be a higher level of civil discourse in our country if we are going to make any progress on issues that matter … Billy Corgan, founder and frontman of the band Smashing Pumpkins was chatting up Piers Morgan on the state of the union the other night, lamenting,
“Where is the democracy that I knew? … I’m very disappointed in my country right now because I think we’ve lost our moral compass. … At some point, we have to get out of this paternalistic churn we’re in where we want Daddy to come save us and the banks to come and save us. We need to get back to a level of social responsibility that we haven’t seen for a long time.”
Then posing an answer to his own question,
“Maybe we’re all too stuck up in our phones to know that there is all this other stuff going on.”
The Take-Away: Not that Piers or Billy C. are go-to influencers, and maybe the democracy vibe just pops up more fully in an election year, … but I’m thinking that maybe there is something deeper going on here. There is a lot of “other stuff going on” … and we each have a role … a piece to contribute to the bigger picture. We’ve got all kinds of opportunities to step up and get involved in the “other stuff going on” … even little stuff that can make a big difference in the quality of our communities and of our country — Civic Responsibility 2.0 — !
Maybe there’s an app for that.