Archive for October, 2015

Media Bias? Ready? Set? Empathize!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2015 by michaelcogdill
To be blind….but worse is to have eyes and not see.
Helen Keller
I’ve just listened to a 911 call about a 2 year old accidentally shot to death. At the network affiliate television station I serve, we will not air this excruciating outflow of human tragedy. Yet as I sit here listening, I’m reminded how so many see us. They believe mainstream media sit around dreaming up ways to oppose their agendas and inflict harm. They are utterly wrong. We are no machinery of sadistic madness. We seek to serve as a Constitutionally mandated tool of expansive and questioning minds. We hear and see so much we protect you from out of decency. But we will never protect you from the truth.
We nurture the vine of human fact without adding the barbs of human indignity.
The next time you hear someone speaking of the so called biased media, ask for an example, quick. Don’t accept one from Fox Newchannel, MSNBC or National Review. These are outlets that live on advocacy journalism. And then look up a dynamic called motivated reasoning. It’s the seed of so much of the blind railing you’ll hear on cable and in the cubicle next to yours.
When you see a reporter covering something that breaks your heart, consider the reporter’s heart. The photographer’s heart. It is as yours. And chances are good that crew has seen or heard something that to share would amount to tragedy voyeurism and exploitation. We do not do this. We never will. It’s no cause for a merit badge. It’s simple human decency.
We remove the gore, but not the truth. And often, we take home with us what does not enter your home. To see the news is to require more than the naked eye. It demands a seers soul. A quiet connection to another’s suffering.  As a journalist, I will never objectify the suffering of another.  I will seek to feel it, and to report on it with due journalist detachment, never losing attachment to my humanity, or yours.
Do not spare your children from the news. Those who grew up on the Vietnam images, the Kennedy funeral and MLK assassination, the collective anguish of 911 are not emotionally scarred. They are broader of heart. They are the lesser naive. And I’ll dare say they are truly hopeful. They know love is no emotion, but an action. A state of being and doing. Truly human. They dare to be. And to see.

Love Like a Man!!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2015 by michaelcogdill

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
Mahatma Gandhi

This is one of the finest statement’s of courageous vulnerability I’ve ever seen. I highlight this here for men. May we not wait to tell our fathers, sons, friends we love them. May we not let the words linger inside us until they come pouring out over a casket.

Dare to love, and dare to speak it. Let’s not let cowardice rule.  Let us rule cowardice.

Gentlemen, and especially those failing to qualify under the title, if there’s a rage within you that moves you to hit a woman, I implore you — pick on somebody your own size. Yourself. Only you can change who you are. Only you. It’s no one’s fault but your own that you carry this rage. An abusive childhood, a critical coach, bullying — none of these comes with a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card. You own what you say and do. It’s on you to get help. It’s your calling to have an authentic experience with God.

Same with addicts. Of any kind.

But the news arcs upward from here. Up into light. We live in a United States that circles arms around the broken. There is good, true, non-enabling help all over the place., and it works. Support groups are free.

If you walk around stinking in this culture, and you’re even close to an adult, it’s your fault now. Soap and water are everywhere. Their ubiquity in every public John from Maine to Guam. AA meetings, not quite as common, but close. Libraries brim with free books on how to resolve rage, find free resources, gain peace.  Then there’s the internet, where free help is good science, and funny as hell.

Man up, fellas.  No more excuses.  And watch that link until he pulls out the fish.  I mean, why didn’t I think of therapy by perch, or whatever that is, crappie, bream, whatever?  I can’t stop laughing at the dude.

Peace, y’all. Peace that’s real.

Dumb and Dumber: Inviting the Real Cuss Words to Sit Down and Shut up?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2015 by michaelcogdill

Not long ago, while working out on a trail fitness station near my mom’s, I heard a child utter words so foul, so profane, their stench will linger a long while in my memory.

“Dumb and dumber,” he pointed at two girls about his age, as they all swarmed together, parents obliviously nearby. “Dumb one and dumb two” he grinned, pointing down at them. He aroused a partner in his crime, a boy about two years younger. Proof that children can lead one another straight into the swamps of hell on earth.

They are not little angels. They are little humans, longing early for the rule of law, so often missing.

Making this experience even more vile is this. The victims are Hispanic children. The perpetrators Caucasian. All about 9 years old. A humanity-drowning hurt pooled deep in the eyes of the girls. A pride much too heavy for any man to carry fell from the grins on those boys.

These are not my children to parent. I could only make some quick eye contact as a bystander to the vulgarity. The face of a highway patrolman came over me. I felt it. The boys saw it. I’m glad they did. I hope their parents did as well. I wish I could comfort the girls who were victimized. Perhaps I did. That look sent the boys scattering. The girls got to play again in peace.

I and some other adults finished our workout without a word. I left, thinking about the folly of so-called bad words.

So many spend so much energy decrying the culture. A cuss word somehow stands for the devil, while the likes of “dumb, stupid, stooge, retard” and a litany of others you can surely call to mind stand as rites of passage. Just innocent banter among children. That banter cuts like a rusted machete. Yet we cut even mild cuss words out of movies in the name of family values.

If a family counts “stupid, retard, idiot” as acceptable for kids to wield at one another, count me out of those values.

Yes, I know we’ve all said seemingly innocent things that are not. Hopefully the hurt up in the eyes of our victims schooled us in the true definition of profanity. I do not define it as Jerry Falwell did. I never will.

A few weeks ago, I commented here about my late friend, the Rev Bob Lawrence. Bob could truly out preach a million clergy, and out cuss the crew of an air craft carrier. He was funny. Authentic. As real as humanity gets, and deeply loving and wise. I never heard him refer to someone as dumb or stupid or even a fool. Someone came along and questioned my taste in ministers. I accept the critique. Love the critic. But he does not change my opinion at all on what counts as a true cuss.

Those little boys swinging around “dumb” would likely take a hard parental scolding if they replaced it with something Joe Pesci might say in Goodfellas. Honestly, I’d chide less for a so-called cuss word than for an epithet that will travel home and linger, like a dehumanizing stench, in the memory of a little girl.

Twain said better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. Even as he defies the standard here, he makes the point.

There’s a canyon’s worth of difference between a cathartic cuss and a truly ugly, unintelligent profanity. May we all worry far more about the dropping of a D Bomb. Dumb seems so innocent until it flies into our face. Then we see — it makes a bona fide ass of the mouth from which it falls. Especially our own.

Sanctuary: Granny’s Scrapyard Playground

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2015 by michaelcogdill

My Granny found a palace quilt in a swamp-color garbage can.

She lived in a mobile home made of what felt like tin and onion skin.  A green and blue bread box of a place, in a coat of dust raised off two red dirt roads that converged at the hitch.  Out front jutted a cobbled-up addition of plywood and whitewash. Out back stood her tin hardware shack, bought at Sears Roebuck, raised next to her clay-clod strawberry field, measuring little bigger than a sandbox.

And down a hill, through some woods and over a neck-breaker of a ledge, stood her playground.  A green dumpster behind a fabric and clothing store named Connie’s fashions.  It caught the castoffs of the polyester age in America.  I never saw a woman named Connie near the place.  I doubt Granny did either.  If she had, she would have asked permission to dive into that green garbage box.  She never did, so far as I know.  If that amounts to stealing, then God surely forgives the crime in the name of reclaimed beauty.

Out of that dumpster, my Granny stitched some good, stout beauty onto the world.

The scraps wore colors for which there are no fashion titles.  Words won’t do for the green.  The purple defies a name.  The colors occur in the rarest nature.  It was her nature not to let them take a ride to a dumping ground.

Up the hill to that tin box, she’d carry that scrap by armloads.  Her feet were long tired from Cotton Mill labor that started in girlhood. They looked worn out by women of the Bible and handed down through ages, so they surely hurt on the trip.  But the dumpster dive and pillaging carried on.  My Granny, undaunted, behind an imp of a grin.

Those feet, in concert with some arthritic and artistic hands, carried three Granny quilts to my life.

My Granny died in 1989.  The heart of me still wears a void the size of her.  But on a chill night, I or my mother — her only girl — may wear a quilt made of scraps, saved from a trash box, sewn in a tin box, by hands rough and soft and tender at once.

My Granny helped make a man of me.  When a girl broke my heart, she held me, told me not to “fret that little gal.”   When I needed to act more like a gentleman, she let me see just enough of my shame in her tears.  She was my re-creator.  She taught me stout should be tender.  Thanks to her, I am more a creature of decency than the Philistine she would not tolerate for a grandson.

Now the quilts do what her arms cannot.

My Granny’s scrapyard mountain art runs the chill of mortal life off me.  The very thought of one, a sanctuary.

I believe in eternal life.  I accept its mystery, not prone to all that fancied up eschatology about gold streets and cherubs with halos made of Vacation Bible School tin foil.  I believe God lets my Granny live on in two poetical worlds at once.  The one to come, lovely beyond words, and another along the stitching of her scrapyard quilts in the wilderness we all occupy in this world. Her hands, in the stitching, still hold me.  And in her hands, God, in touch with his feminine side, holds me together.  Upright, such as I am, in the world.

A true man, perhaps, one day. One worthy of my Granny’s scrapyard playground.