The transition, as they call it, from residence to “residential retirement” has gone well. Or maybe I should be cautious and say “is going well so far.” It’s been a month since I checked in to Berwick Royal Oak and with a smidgen of good fortune as I whisper past my 93 birthday on the 27th it will continue to go well for many more.
The daily cares of grocery shopping and sharing the chore of cooking evening meals – then doing the washing up have vanished. My only morning chores involve lowering a four cup coffee maker to the two cup level, switching it on, finding a decent news channel on TV (not easy), sipping coffee. Then come the main chores of the day –shave, shower, take medications, dress and head for breakfast with the cooking and the dirty dishes left to someone else.
By 9 a.m. it’s time to find a quiet spot for a disturbing read of local and national newspapers with their incessant reminders that outside my new-found cocoon the world continues to hurtle through space with billions of highly intelligent human beings locked in the belief that all is well. It disturbs me that so many can so easily be deceived by the junk food fed them by those who disseminate it.
Of late, all mass news outlets have been lamenting the growth in social media of “false news stories” appearing as “facts” on Facebook or Twitter. Editorials lament the trend; columnists rant about the dangers and chief editors don their chamber of commerce blazers and hit chicken dinner or radio talk show circuit to boast about the care they take to check facts before they publish stories. It’s a fair boast and after 50-years in the trenches of journalism, I can verify that editors do check facts before they publish.
I can also verify that they do not always publish ALL the facts for the good reason that if they did readers would leave them at greater speed and increased volume than the current alarming rate of desertion. Newspaper readers prefer a pablum diet, nothing to upset the stomach; newspaper editors deliver.
Not many days pass without photographs of mangled cars on local highways or ravaged buildings in far way cities with long lines of harried men, women and children fleeing terror from rebels or government forces. But we never see close up pictures of those left behind – the accidental dead in car crashes or the victims of bullets, bombs or exploding shells. Just crushed metal or shattered buildings.
We never see the dead because we don’t want to see them, and would condemn for brutal sensationalism any editor who dared to force feed us the bloody realities of carnage on our highways, and what really lies behind all those shell and bomb burst clouds we see destroying buildings. We may be informed that 200, maybe 300, people were killed with the majority “women and children.”
That’s as close as we want to be or editors will dare to take us as we lament the horror of violent death on highways or battlefields but don’t want to see its face.
So I turn the pages of my newspaper, have another sip of coffee and, sitting in this Berwick Royal Oak sea of tranquility, wonder if humanity will ever have the courage to face the evil of man-created violent death by automobile or gun and bring it to an end.
Refusing to look doesn’t help. Shakespeare said that a few hundred years back when he warned “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves” and Walt Kelly’s Pogo repeated just a few years ago when advising a friend “we have met the enemy and he is us.”