The frenetic age of instantaneous news feeds

The frenetic age of instantaneous news feeds

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Whatever else we may be feeling right now, it is safe to generalize that we are not bored. Aside from the usual holiday frenzy, as we get our homes, our pets, our refrigerators and pantries, ourselves and our shopping lists ready, we are overwhelmed by more issues at this year’s end than I can ever remember. Maybe it has to do with our instantaneous news feeds that make us aware of what’s going on. But I think that we are living in a frenetic age.

Where to start?

Certainly, terrorism has occupied center stage in the minds of Americans. Worse — and more frightening than attacks from outside — is the demonstrable possibility of random homicide from within, from Americans or those who have settled among us and been “radicalized,” a polite word for psychopath. For how else can one characterize those who would commit mass murder to make a statement?

Continuing on, in no particular order, there is the fierce debate about guns and their easy availability in our country. Probably the most extraordinary line I have heard on the subject: “If Jews in Europe had had guns, there never would have been a Holocaust.”

The presidential race, started way before the actual election, has become an excellent source of entertainment as spectator sport for the public and high ratings for the TV stations. Top banana is surely Donald Trump, who is clearly having the time of his life mocking his GOP colleagues and those of the opposition party, especially Hillary Clinton. Just think: If this were a movie, people would never believe it could happen, this New Yorker leading the pack by insulting everyone in sight. He may even be the catalyst for a new detente with Russia. Putin really likes him and vice versa. Maybe he gives Putin something more interesting to watch on his own TV at home at night than the censored news the Russian people are served up. How probable that a candidate in Russia would be able to say the one-liners Trump offers each day, starting with his opinion of his president?

Then there is the grave matter of police brutality, which is framed in large part by the issue of racism in America. No sooner is there a police shooting in one state than there is another in another state, equally distributed between North and South, East and West. The only redeeming feature is the outrage and immediate investigations such events engender. But how helpful those reactions are remains to be seen. We must keep the spotlight
on them.

Immigration has become a major flash point, having moved from Mexican youngsters crossing over in large enough numbers to overwhelm the border patrol to Syrians and others from the Middle East desperately seeking asylum from the bombings and atrocities currently perpetrated on civilian populations. We are living in a time with the greatest migration of peoples since World War II displaced millions. And how are we to judge the authenticity of each person coming into America? By the same token, do we discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or religion? Have we learned nothing from the past century?

Immigration is an even more acute issue across the Atlantic since Europe is a geographically closer destination than the United States. Thousands have abandoned their homelands, taking little more than their children and the clothes on their backs to try and make a better life in the northern countries. Some have perished along the way. Fences have gone up to prevent their entrance, threatening the basic tenets of the European Union amid the countries’ inability to cope. Partly underlying resistance to the newcomers is the fear of admitting further terrorists.

Meanwhile we continue bombing Syria. So does Russia. So does France. So does a reported Middle Eastern coalition led by Saudi Arabia. No wonder mistakes are being made as people are killed who are not the intended targets. There must be almost as many different nationalities of planes in the air as people on the ground, trying to escape. What a mess.

For the moment, we here can do little more than pull our families closely around us and remember how lucky we are as we reach out to help others. No, we are not bored, just overwhelmed. May we see peace in our time.

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