Why I Stopped Reading the News
Max Nussenbaum

Max Nussenbaum,

You may no longer care to read or know the day’s news, as you have since reviewed the ingredients and the partisan origins of these political supplements, so to speak, and have abandoned your morning ritual of removing an oversized Red or Blue pill from a sheet of 16 identical items (from a package of 64 such capsules, to be taken twice daily); choosing, instead, to write in your journal and meditate, free from the uncertainty of who the next President-elect of the United States may be, as was the case (for 36 days of turmoil) in 2000, but the news will puncture whatever false solitude and inflated tranquility you currently enjoy because technology makes it impossible to avoid the accelerated spread of the most vile forms of political pestilence, and the twin bacilli of biological disease and theological extremism.

By the forces of air and light, with jetliners contaminated with lethal bacteria, or the cockpits of commercial airplanes commandeered by hijackers overcome by the deadly ideology of martyrdom, what begins elsewhere — and what moves with the speed of the electron, traversing the globe through vast networks of cables beneath the earth and circling the heavens across a constellation of man-made satellites — arrives with thunderous calamity, in New York, London, Bali, Barcelona, Baghdad, Basra and Bethlehem, to be replayed on TV and the Web in perpetuity.

You have no more control over the news than you do over time, space and gravity. What you have is the illusion of control, as if one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.

The other pills — the ones that mother gives you — are, according to Alice (and transcribed and performed by Grace Slick), the ones that don’t do anything at all.

So, if you are not conversant with the news, and should you make no distinction between the sensationalism of the tabloids and the sober reportage about ongoing conflicts from the soil of the Scriptures and the sands of Saudi Arabia and Syria, as well as the missile silos in Iran, you will continue to consume that other pill — that placebo of self-delusion — until droplets of blood stain the pages of your journal.

That ink dries, but never fades.

It is the drip-drip sound of inevitability, and the mark of man’s inhumanity to man.

Temper it with knowledge, and seek to repel it with love and justice.

Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, –
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
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