Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Power of Words

I live in James Bay which is the center of the action where holiday celebrations are concerned, being home to the BC Legislature. Such was the case on Canada Day when a steady stream of people - clad in the ubiquitous red and white soaked in the party-like atmosphere of what was a beautiful summer day on the inner harbour right through the inevitable fireworks that marked the occasion in a dizzying parade of light. My nephew and his friends were among the throngs of young people who flocked downtown for the festivities. Then today, the terrifying news that a terrorist plot threatened this idyllic (for the most part) event. Suddenly the scores of over-indulgers were not the biggest threat - but genuine evil-doers who allegedly planted the same rudimentary but deadly devices that led to the carnage at the Boston marathon. Sobering doesn't seem to cut it when one imagines what could have been. And yet, before you knew it - in our Tweet every thought world, we were describing the culprits - who from everything I've heard to date were two misguided, unemployed Caucasian individuals who may or may not have been on methadone but paid their rent on time - had Al-Qaeda ideologies - and had converted to Islam which apparently in this day and age is synonymous with terrorist. There is no question harm was intended - and the fact the authorities, who had apparently been tracking their movements since February, intervened before anyone was hurt, is admirable. And yet so many questions remain, up to and including how they allowed the devices to be planted in the first place if they knew so much about what was going on. But more disturbing is the way people rushed to eat up and regurgitate those powerful words - driven with meaning - that require no explanation - such is their power to render the populace numb. And the neighbours who without corroboration were allowed to spew their thoughts with no indication that anyone bothered to ask police whether their suspicions were ever recorded on the record. The beauty of the old daily newspaper is that by the next morning after an event, one assumes some thought and sifting had gone into the content. We don't live in that world anymore. We crave expediency and lose the context. And that my dear readers, makes me terribly sad.


  1. It is frustrating - and I know from my colleagues in journalism that they are busier than ever, and irritated that they are not effective. Too much call for instant solutions - and difficult problems, without simple answers lie to fester. Who's still digging into the Rob Ford situation? What's going on with the Senate? What's happening today in Attawapiskat? Or Somalia? There only seems to be time to attack and then to react.

    1. Too true, Steve. too true. I realize it may seem like I was maligning journalists which is far from the case. They are expected to keep up this daily dialogue - frankly I don't know how they do it...