By Leslie Griffith and Mac Griffith, who is an occasional author in Silverthorne, Colorado.
"I had a lover's quarrel with the world." Robert Frost
I have also had a lover's quarrel, but it is hard to keep it so. Sometimes my quarrel with the world is so sharp, so intense, that all the love seems lost.
Love is a safety net, allowing quarreling trapeze artists to swing high overhead, joining and parting, with no fear of falling. I envy Mr. Frost his ability to quarrel with the world and love it still. In my quarrels with the things of this world, I am sometimes afraid to look down, afraid that the heat of my anger has burned up the safety net.
I have a quarrel with bold, confident leaders who rally the nation to war based on slivers of truth. The whole truth serves in court; it should serve for the American people. My craft, journalism, is full of pros, cons, doubts, and ambiguities, but I must choose not to spin some facet of the truth, in the manner of teenagers desperate to go to a party.
I don't want leaders who instinctively trust the bold assertions of the likes of the Karl Roves of this world and who instinctively distrust the sober cautions of the Joe Wilsons.
I do not want to have to struggle with my own government in sorting out fact from fiction. I have accepted infomercials, but I cannot make peace with either journatainment or journamercials. I want people to remember the difference between sound journalism that enlightens and Jerry Springer's cult of perversity. I want to know the Edward R. Murrows and the Walter Cronkites of today. I want to turn on the radio and the television news and hear the truth, not advertisements for drugs that keep Americans in a constant state of lightness and emotional detachment. I want to be like Mr. Frost and have only lover's quarrels with the world, but it is hard.
The drip of small lies carves a deep channel. Democrats, Republicans, it does not matter. Imagine President Bush and Vice President Cheney telling us the truth about Iraq, Afghanistan and now Iran and Pakistan. The truth would forever elevate them to the status of humans in touch with reality during difficult times. My lover's quarrel intensifies.
Imagine Clinton, Obama, Edwards -- all politicians saying, "If the good people, in their wisdom should see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined." Abraham Lincoln said those words. He would probably have trouble getting elected county coroner today. I want to be like Mr. Frost and have only lover's quarrels with the world, but it is hard.
Americans are now what appears to be a permanent fixture of the fighting in the Middle East where Sunnis kill Shiites in tribal warfare thousands of years old, and Jews and Muslims kill each other for God. They cannot share the land because God has told each side that it is theirs alone. Each side has sites that are holy, that God has ordered them to die for and kill others for. These sites are dirt piles, as are all the other sites on this earth, but these are special dirt piles, special enough for God to grant an exemption to the rule against killing. Thou shall not kill except in the interests of holy dirt. There are Christian cults who are thrilled with all this killing because it signifies to them that the Rapture is coming, a Rapture in which God will lift them to heaven while leaving billions of wrong believers to rot. And they call this, with a straight face, rapture.
It is hard to keep it all sorted out. The Christians have only stopped killing the Jews in recent times. The Christians and the Muslims are killing each other, as are the Hindus and the Muslims, but only when they have the chance. I would like to be like Mr. Frost and have only a lover's quarrel with the world, but it is hard.
I think Mr. Frost is right, but his task requires a fearsome discipline. It requires the remembrance of woods on a snowy evening. It requires remembrance that many politicians are doing their best. It requires that the people also do their best and refrain from voting for politicians who feed them only their favorite morsels of truth. It requires remembrance that many reporters are still trying to get it all sorted out and serve it up as Mr. Cronkite would say "The way it is."
I try, not always successfully, to maintain Mr. Frost's discipline, so that I can bring to my quarrels with the world some safety net of love. But, it is hard.