A friend and I had a conversation the other day about a particular radio talk show host. I was unable to articulate my reasons for not listening to him or to any other talk show for that matter, but the question of why I don’t listen stuck around in my brain. Here is my conclusion.
Motive. Even when Talk Show hosts are speaking the truth, or their version of it, it is how they go about it that turns my stomach. Their purpose is to incite us. I don’t begrudge anyone making an honest living, everybody has to, but I believe there is enough anger in the world already. The successful Talk Show host has to have good ratings (otherwise they are history), and you get ratings by getting your audience excited, whether they agree or disagree with you. They incite us, they fire us up, they get people angry, they sometimes twist facts out of context to suit their side – and both sides do this. Politicians do it too. Ad-makers do it most of all. It’s all about money.
I love it when I am funny. I love the reaction I get when people like what I’ve written or a story I’ve told, but what I want more than anything in the world, is to be an inspiration, however small, if only to one student or one grandchild. Inspired people create speeches with lines like: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country,” or “I have a dream.” Mozart’s music is so inspiring it has been sent out into space. Inspiring art hangs in every city of the world. Inspired architecture stands for centuries as a testament to our creativity and appreciation of beauty.
When we inspire our children, who knows what the next generation will create, but it will be wonderful. I know it. Literature, art, the sciences, the Olympics, name a successful person in any one of these fields who wasn’t inspired by someone before them. They, in turn, inspire us. Inspiration makes me feel good. Fifty years from now, no one will remember this or that talk show host, but Mozart’s music will still be around, and so will the art of Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
So, my politics may be warped, (after all I did grow up during the age of peace-niks and hippies) but I will always look for the positive, the creative, and the hopeful, and I will do that by listening to the kind of things that inspire me, not the voices that turn my stomach inside out.