"He suspects he's becoming a dupe, the willing, febrile consumer of news fodder, opinion, speculation and of all the crumbs the authorities let fall. He's a docile citizen, watching Leviathan grow stronger while he creeps under its shadow for protection...It's an illusion, to believe himself active in the story. Does he think he's contributing something, watching news programmes, or lying on his back on the sofa on Sunday afternoons, reading more opinion columns of ungrounded certainties, more long articles about what really lies behind this or that development, or about what is most surely going to happen next, predictions forgotten as soon as they are read, well before events disprove them?....Either way, it amounts to a consensus of a kind, an orthodoxy of attention, a mild subjugation in itself. Does he think that his ambivalence - if that's what it really is - excuses him from the general conformity? He's deeper in than most. His nerves, like tautened strings, vibrate obediently with each news "release." He's lost the habits of skepticism, he's becoming dim with contradictory opinion, he isn't thinking clearly, and just as bad, he senses he isn't thinking independently."
- Ian McKewon, "Saturday"
I think this passage articulates well the modern predicament of the many people in our society: educated and knowledgeable about the world around them, but not necessarily sure that they are playing an active part in the world or that their education or knowledge really has any bearing on the outcome of events.
it's sort of why I have a love/hate relationship with Jon Stewart and the Daily Show: they are very good about calling out bullshit, so much so that I feel that no action is needed on my part. during the day I may read the news and get frustrated with the course of current events, yearning on some level to take action. but then I sit on my couch at the end of the day, watch Jon Stewart and his writers articulate my frustration much more clearly (and cleverly) then I could, and loose steam. I feel that there are millions of people out there like this - they're watching the Daily Show or reading Kristof and Krugman or watching Charlie Rose or posting on blogs or what have you, but ultimately, to what end?
the Jesuits talk a lot about the need for a balance between contemplation and action. yes, it's important to learn about the world and to reflect upon different aspects of it. but when is it time for action? and how do you take action that will actually be effective in realizing change? when is it time to put down the New York Times, turn off the T.V., log off the computer, and do something?
(and if you know, please tell me...)