October 5, 2010


Given the speed with which information or disinformation travels through the internet and the media, I sometimes find it hard to keep my chin up. This past week, I’ve been subjected to enough horror stories, both fact and fiction, to turn my grey hair white. Hillary Clinton has apologized to Guatemala for experiments performed in the 1940s on mentally ill patients without their consent; a United Nations report has been released which says both Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda committed acts of genocide against each other; and a video has been released showing Pakistani troops in the Swat Valley summarily executing blindfolded young men in an extra-judicial killing against the Taliban. The latter report is being investigated as I write.

Add to the week’s news the numerous conspiracy theories that have also been unleashed: A journalist accuses the Northeast media elite, Jews in particular, of a plot to keep Hispanic Journalists in second tier jobs; a famous philanthropist is charged with helping to develop vaccines to “castrate” segments of the third world to reduce population growth; Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president,  has told the United Nations that 9/11 was an American plot to provide it with an excuse to attack countries in the Middle East (Osama Bin Laden has accepted responsibility for the attack, so I expect to read any day now that he is on the CIA’s payroll.).

There is always a ring of truth to conspiracy theories and truth, itself, can be so horrible, it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. But one needn’t look far or long or hard to see the good that men do. Acts of bravery and kindness and charity go on every day and in such great numbers that, being common, they warrant little attention. Doctors, nurses, teachers, philanthropists, firefighters, police, soldiers fighting for their country,  hospice and social workers, and volunteers in every field work their magic  each day in the world. They are the glue that holds a society together. I try to remember this when I read the news or hear the latest conspiracy theory. I haven’t given up on the human race and I try to do my part.  But I confess, when there are very, very bad days, I seek the comfort of innocence. I escape into “Winnie the Pooh.”