Caricatures are interesting, don't you think? And they can be quite fun and entertaining as well -- perhaps you've had one drawn of you or someone in your family.
Of course, we understand what we are seeing here. The good ones are recognizable likenesses of the subject, but usually with many of their least flattering features exaggerated for comic effect. It can be a good laugh. Or it can sometimes hurt a bit, if the subject lacks self confidence.
And so we have the Virginia Tech massacre, and the media frenzy. I mean, really, have you seen anything like it? No, no, I don't mean the tragedy. I mean the media.
Some of you may know that I don't watch TV, don't listen to talk radio, and I don't read the newspaper or weekly news magazines. Ohmigosh, how will I ever know what is going on in the world? Well here is my secret. I subscribe to two free news summaries over the internet (CNN and NYTimes). I receive daily headlines and editorials. Based on the headlines, I decide if an article might be worth reading. Perhaps you can guess that I don't read very many of them.
So yes, I did know about the shooting. But that is all I really needed to know. I could easily predict the media frenzy.
In the comments section of a recent post regarding Attention, an anonymous commenter from the other side of the planet and I veered into this topic area. Feel free to check out that dialog if you like. It is where I realized that what we are seeing on the media is simply that: a caricature of American life, intentionally designed to exaggerate our least flattering features.
[D]o not become trapped. This is NOT America, nor the world. This is a caricature drawn for a single purpose: to titilate, to stimulate, to profit. There is no accuracy to the picture. You know that in your heart. Your experiences tell you that as well. But the infernal drumbeat looking to steal your attention will continue. Just turn it off. That is your choice.OK, so you know my bias. But what on earth is my point?
Just this: Life as told to you by another person is nothing but a concept. There is nothing real about it. You are distorting what you've been told with your own biases, just as that person distorted his perceptions when forming them into concepts and words. This may be intentional (like much of the media) or not (like a friend trying to make you understand their perspective).
But either way, it is not reality. What you must do is find for yourself your own reality. You must directly experience life, and come to a deeply resonant internal "knowing". Some would call this a mystical experience. Again, this is but another concept, which surely means something different to you than it does to me.
And when I look with mindful attention, when I am present and deeply aware of my surroundings, I can see the pain and the suffering in the world, and I can try to be fully present for it. But I can also see the compassion and the joy, and I can try to be present for that as well. And when I am mindful, I keep noticing beauty and safety and kindness and compassion all around me.
So let's not report on what others see. Let us describe our own experiences.
Let a thousand individual voices create the harmony that reduces the media drumbeat to mere background noise. Which your mind is designed to naturally filter out. Until it might as well no longer exist.When you see the caricature painted by the media, and the frenzy of talking heads feeding at the trough of sorrow, throw back your head and laugh. It is tragic comedy, not reality. The suffering for the families of the victims, and the family of the killer are real. We can be present for that. Respectful of that. And offer them our love and forgiveness. And one act we can take to help heal our worldly family in this time of sorrow, is to turn off the TV. Just turn it off. Be present for your own family. And begin your own journey of awakening to real life.