Context Matters

At home I don’t watch much TV. For now I am a houseguest so the television is on and I see things differently. Admittedly I watch far more HGTV than is healthy, one of my guilty vacation pleasures. But I also watch news, and this week Ebola and Gaza are the big stories. The coverage is extensive and a very fine grind. That’s understandable. What upsets me almost as much as the hair splitting and violence is the context in which the news nestled: the sales pitches that urge me to hurry and buy a fast car before the model-year ends. Or buy a memory foam mattress and new flooring. Would that people in Gaza had a floor to stand on, a bed to sleep in, and a fast car to escape from the war. Would that they had clean water and bandages for the wounded children.

What ever medium delivers the news, the context shades the message. Can we hold onto the horror if our culture belies the truth by distracting  us with inane ads that highlight our mundane and commercial preoccupations? I don’t think so.

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