Thursday, June 16, 2005

When you're 90

Another question, inspired by my brother and by profgrrrrl's comment to the 13-year-old question I posed earlier, and because I've enjoyed reading those stories so much.

My brother, a man of great wisdom, has a trick he uses for facing difficult or challenging decisions. Not sure whether to play it safe or take a risk? Imagine yourself, he says, at the age of ninety, looking back on your life, and ask yourself: which thing would you rather have done? It's remarkable how much that kind of perspective helps you get past the things that seem scary.

So as a corollary to the 13-year-old question, I ask you: Imagine yourself at 90, looking back on who you are now. What would your 90-year-old self be most proud of, and what would your 90-year-old self kick your current self in the butt for?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

More blood and guts?

One of the differences that I'd forgotten about between the US and Europe is the amount and kind of information you get on the news. Americans get the news pretty well sanitized for them before they see any of it, while Europeans don't censor themselves quite so much (one memorable example being the images of the people jumping/falling from the twin towers on Sept. 11, which were shown almost everywhere except in the US).

These days, it's most noticeable with the news about Iraq. In the US we get the news about the daily bombings, but just the numbers - three more people dead, five more, twenty. Every day a few more, but it's just numbers. Here, with every single incident, every single day, they show the images of the bloodied fragments of corpses spattered across the streets, more wounded being carried away, more stunned and frightened neighbors, another father howling in grief and anger.

It's truly awful to see, and we haven't quite figured out what to think about it. Husband thinks it's too harsh, that they're only showing these images for shock value (and in the sense of entertainment/attracting attention, not shock that these things are actually happening). I think maybe Americans could use a little more of the latter kind of shock, though. It's too easy to say We're Number One and We Create Democracy and We're the Good Guys Why Aren't You More Grateful, when you don't have to see the consequences of the Pandora's box we've opened. I don't believe in exploiting the grief and pain of others, but it wouldn't kill us to be a little more aware of it.