What is "the news"?

Last Sunday I went to a Christmas concert a a local church. All flutes (plus the occasional Harp). Who knew there was a contra-bass flute ?

The concert was a benefit for “Furthest Corners” mission that has a school and hospital in Myanmar (Burma). I talked to one of the missionaries who had to leave the country recently due to the civil war. The civil war in [Burma] has been going on on-and-off for 70 years. Who knew?

It seems the military decided to bomb the school. It’s half gone. They are holding school in the other half.

I asked about the war. Apparently its “everybody against the military and the police now.” Imagine having to go the grocery store (or grow and store your own rice) in an environment where you might get mugged by the police. Where do you turn? How do you live? How do you eat?

I also recently finished All Quiet on the Western Front, a book about the experience of one German soldier in the trenches of WWI. The German title of the book Im Westen nichts Neues, literally translates “Nothing New in the West” referring to the “news” from the front they day the main character was killed, with the end of the war in sight and “not much going on”. “Not much” in who’s view?

“The news” tends to be voyeuristic, detached, high level and mass market. It tends to feed judgmental views and tribalism.

People are what matter. Kids having a school to go to (or half a school). Having food to eat. Living free from fear of those who are supposed to protect you. But that’s not news.

##################### I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day #############################

And in keeping with the Christmas concert and war theme, these words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the depths of the American civil war:


1 I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

2 And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

3 Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

4 And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

5 Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

These verses, usually omitted in modern hymnals, reflect the words'
origin during the American civil war:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

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