Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 260
September 8, 1997

Fish in Water


The power of television to turn this viewer into a participant--even at 4:00 a.m.--was evident in Princess Diana's funeral service. Solemn and joyful, affirming and challenging, it satisfied my professional eye.

Later, I began a roll call of the major events by which television had enticed me into becoming an involved participant and which had also left a mark on political and social life:

Kefauver Committee Hearings
Integration of Little Rock Central High School
Civil Rights Movement
Vietnam War
Apollo 11 Moon Walk
Kent State Killings
Watergate Hearings
Tiananmen Square Massacre
Iran Hostage Crisis
Christa McAuliffe in Challenger
Ethiopia Famine
Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill
Gulf War
Rodney King Beating
O. J. Simpson Trial
and now the funeral of Princess Diana.

Generally, articles on television decry the amount of time spent before the set and the violence and sex to which our children are exposed. However, television also has changed our attitude toward war, given us heroes and exposed villains, opened our eyes to hidden evils and highlighted confrontations. Unfortunately, television also has magnified the trivial at which it points its lens and makes non-events of all at which it doesn't. It has changed our language, turning those being interviewed into supplicants, who at the end of an interview, gratefully says, "Thank you," rather than "You're welcome."

Humans run the cameras and the networks and, thus, the screen reflects both human glory and human misery. Whatever we think, we now move in the video world as fish swim in water.

Without the television camera I would have been excluded from Princess Di's funeral. I would have missed the pageantry. I would have missed the passion.

I would have given only passing thought to this remarkable person.



--Robert H. Tucker
8 September 1997

© Robert H. Tucker, 1997.

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