Keep your Eyes on the Prize, Mr. Twain

So, this won’t be a blog about how awesome the Oscars were. How I loved or hated who won—or who didn’t. Yesterday, I was doing emails and I thought I’d check CNN. There were two large photos and headlines side by side.

On the left (allegedly, the top headline) was a picture of a crowd holding up a tattered Libyan flag. Faces in the crowd were angry, confused, and frightened. Children and guns mixed in a sort of surreal cacophony of images. The headline said that the UN was going to sanction Libya and Moammar Gadhafi. Because, you know, sanctions have worked out so well in other countries – like, maybe, Cuba. Gadhafi’s quality of life won’t change by this move—but the Libyan people will be devastated. They will go hungry. The quality of life they are fighting for has immediately been diminished; their access to help and support thwarted. Cool move. Some nations, Britain comes to mind, have frozen his international assets. Smarter move. Will we, the US, follow suit? I wonder…

On the right side of the screen was a picture of some woman’s finely manicured feet in black open-toed heels. She was wearing a full, lipstick-red, flowing skirt (gown?). The headline was about who would shine on the red carpet and the glamour of Hollywood. The blurb beneath the photo talked about the Oscar hopefuls, speculation, and gossip. I didn’t click for more details.

I scanned the rest of the headlines on the page… Death toll in New Zealand, Wisconsin protesters willing to be arrested rather than leave, and one that hasn’t made it to the top spot… Food prices the next global crisis? Over 100yrs ago, Mark Twain said, politics and events don’t shape the world – the media does. That’s a paraphrase. The words echoed in my mind.

I turned to Facebook; posts from The New York Times and ProPublica were devoted to blow-by-blow Oscar reports. Almost every status related to the happenings in Hollywood.


I’ve been to Hollywood and I know some keen-eyed folks who live there. It is over-ridden with homeless people, poverty. Desperation. None of that was mentioned last night. I’m guessing the scenes from the red carpet, tactfully, avoided the panhandlers just steps away. Junkies and crackheads. Veterans in wheelchairs. Sincere people in need side by side with con-men and grifters. I wondered how the reporters filtered the sound of sirens as they interviewed nominees.

Not that I’m not happy Colin Firth won, I like Colin Firth. But really folks, let’s get a grip and put it into perspective—it doesn’t deserve equal billing with world crises. It just doesn’t. It shouldn’t drown the voices of people crying for freedom—people fighting for the democracy so many have already died for—natural disasters. It just shouldn’t.

It’s no wonder our own democracy is in tatters—that the lunatic fringe is taking control. Yesterday, the American population was led, like sheep, by the media away from what’s important. A hundred years later, Mr. Twain, and nothing’s changed.

It was work to not fall in line.

I went to youtube and listened. I clicked and went from song to song… John Lennon, Imagine and Power to the People; Billy Joel, We Didn’t Start the Fire; Joan Baez at the Obama White House, We Shall Overcome; John Mellencamp, also at the White House, Eye on the Prize; Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA… I didn’t search for any of them—I just chose from the related songs listed. So someone some where’s paying attention.

I could have kept going, but an especially dear friend sent a song to my inbox and left me speechless and humbled. Thunderstruck. It’s funny how moments in time are refracted and shape us. If I could go back and do things over—do things differently, would I? Would you? Would what we’ve lost sustain us the way what we’ve gained has? Questions to ask. I am still searching for words to reply…

When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy–that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
Mark Twain in a letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks

And through the noise of the world, the shifting sands, I find, along with Mr. Twain, another rock. A stable point in the sea of madness we call living every day. And I would say to both of them…

Freedom’s name is mighty sweet And soon we’re gonna meet Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on……

word count: 805


4 thoughts on “Keep your Eyes on the Prize, Mr. Twain

  1. Ironically, I was thinking about the same thing today as I heard the “news” of who won an Oscar pushing aside the news of Libya, the economy, and natural disaster. America loves a party. The media loves to sell and influence. Why else would the first question to all the starlets be “Who are you wearing?” I was lucky enough to catch the piece they had with Billy Crystal and Bob Hope. Other than that I saw a little, only because I was forced out of the home office by my son who was doing homework at the last minute, after playing COD for the entire week of vacation. Some things never change.

    • Rome loved a good party too. It didn’t end well for them, ya know? COD is a disease infecting people of all ages.

  2. From my perspective, Mel, the fringe element is always in “control”. Or should it be, the fringe elements are always in charge?

    I thought I read that President Obama has already called for sanctions against Libya. Perhaps it’s the Brits following suit? I don’t recall the source specifically, but it was likely either the NYT or the RTD, a few days ago. Sanctions are diplomacy

    I generally avoid awards shows, especially “Oscar”. (What’s that all about? Re-branding for the Twitter generation?) Last night was no different. Does that make me a wolf or a shepherd among the “sheeple”?

    • Sanctions and not frozen assets. The US froze assets yesterday. Sanctions, as far as I can tell, don’t work.

      And I personally would rather be a wolf than a sheeple…good word.

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