Saturday, March 27, 2004

Perspective on "Making a Difference"

Yawar sent me the transcript of his speech to a group of children. It was a nice, coming from the heart speech, and one part which caught my attention was the narration of this story:

...Finally I want to close my speech by telling you another true story. This one is about a little boy and the famous writer Lauren Eisely. Lauren writes that he was on holiday by the sea side when one night there was a big storm. Very early next morning as he was walking on the beach he saw that among the debris of the storm were literally hundreds of starfish which had been thrown up on the sand the previous night.

As he walked along, Lauren saw someone in the distance doing what looked to him, like a dance. The person was bending down and standing up and moving along as he did this. As Lauren neared him, he saw that it was a little boy who was picking up starfish from the beach and was throwing them back into the sea.

Lauren was like me. A man of the world with a lot of education and life experience.

He went up to the boy and asked, “What are you doing?”

The boy said, “I’m throwing these starfish back into the sea so that they don’t die. They can’t move on the sand and if the sun comes out, they will dry out and die. So I am throwing them back so that they will live.”

Lauren says, he laughed at this statement. He then proceeded to put things in ‘perspective’ for the boy...

So Lauren said to him, “Look, do you realize that on this beach alone there are literally thousands of starfish? And then of course there are hundreds of beaches in the world, on which are thrown up millions of starfish in every storm. You are one kid, throwing one starfish into the sea! For God’s sake, what difference does it make?”

The boy looked at Lauren; he looked at the starfish in his hand, he turned and threw it far into the waves and said to Lauren, “It made a difference to that one!

Lauren writes, “I walked away and kept walking for a long time. Then I returned to the boy who was still there, picking up and throwing the starfish into the sea. I silently picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea. And we did this together for a long time.”

Friday, March 05, 2004

I liked this one from John Pilger's article:

"When we speak of this in regard to totalitarian societies and dictatorships, we call it brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It’s a notion we almost never apply to our own societies. Let me give you an example. During the height of the cold war, a group of Soviet journalists were taken on an official tour of the United States. They watched TV; they read the newspapers; they listened to debates in Congress. To their astonishment, everything they heard was more or less the same. The news was the same. The opinions were the same, more or less. "How do you do it?" they asked their hosts. "In our country, to achieve this, we throw people in prison; we tear out their fingernails. Here, there’s none of that? What’s your secret?"

The secret is that the question is almost never raised. Or if it is raised, it’s more than likely dismissed as coming from the margins: from voices far outside the boundaries of what I would call our ‘metropolitan conversation’, whose terms of reference, and limits, are fixed by the media at one level, and by the discourse or silence of scholarship at another level. Behind both is a presiding corporate and political power. "

Thhis is a good example of how media decides the agenda of public discourse!!!