Context and meaning in the delivery of news

During the past year, as the administration of Mr. Trump made more and more threats to the ongoing function of our government, one critically important voice for me was Heather Cox Richardson. This teacher of American History who wrote and spoke daily from her home in Maine, in her “Letters from an American,” helped give us vital information, with footnotes, and with context, throughout the pandemic and through the daily punches in the gut which we had to endure.

Context matters. History matters. We need to understand what is happening, leaning on people who are able to put it in context. Heather Cox Richardson is a history professor, with expertise and depth in understanding what happened in our country after the Civil War. What is out there in the visual media world is not the same as what is being written. We are being swamped with advertising which distracts, by media which calls itself entertainment so they can’t be sued for twisting the news all our of shape, and a lot of crazy-people with big mouths. There are people who know how to distort and change visual images, so you can not know if what you see is real unless people who were there tell you it is true. Reading what someone who is knowledgeable has reflected on, gives us a bit of time, context, precedent, and meaning. It also matters that they CARE about our country. The movie “Social Dilemma” about what FB and other big internet advertising engines do shows us that we can generate a Civil War in 6 months, by turning your beliefs toward conspiracies, fear, anxiety, self-doubt. In order to have a real chance at building a stronger multi-cultural Democracy and world, we have to listen to each other, trust our elected officials, and continue to care about participating in our governmental decisions. If we cannot work together, we are going to destroy each other and the world. Everything we do now has to be aimed at learning to work together for the common good.

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