Makalii was directly overhead, flanked by Orion and Aldebaran, bright as a planet, when Koko and I went walking in a world dominated by chirping crickets.
Just minutes before the sirens of a fire truck and ambulance racing up the hill had set off the hunting dogs that live in the valley, adding their howls to the crowing chorus of roosters, both domestic and wild.
And then suddenly, all was quiet, but I was wide awake, so I got up and went out, and was so very glad I did, or I would have missed the brilliant company of the stars, and never seen the sky shift from black to blue to apricot and cream.
There’s nothing quite like being out there and seeing things for yourself, which is why I’ve liked working as a reporter, and why I’ve been so concerned about journalists being arrested in Minneapolis while covering the news.
Or at least, what they considered the news, and that happened to include the action on the streets, as well as the GOP convention. Among those picked up was Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, who is quoted in a Los Angeles Times blog as saying:
"I was very angry. This was a violation of my rights," Goodman said. "But
it’s so much bigger than us. When the press is shut down, it's closing the eyes and ears of a critical watchdog in a democratic society."
It seems that’s precisely what the cops had in mind, because they were rounding up these journalists, even though their credentials were clearly visible, and charging them with rioting, just because they were there.
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, one of the two Democracy Now! producers who was also arrested, reported this revealing nugget:
[Police] “kept asking me, “What are you doing here? Why are you here?” I said, “We’re press. We’re here to bear witness to what’s going on, and that’s why we’re in the streets.” And he kept saying, “Oh, you should use a telescopic lens,” or, “You know, when it gets rowdy, you should just stay behind the corner.”
If you’re a journalist who doesn’t want to run and hide or be miles from the action, you can always follow the approach outlined by Minneapolis Police Chief John Harrington in a press conference:,
But, in general, what we’re trying to do is give reporters access. We have tried to give them, in fact, I think extraordinary access by embedding reporters in our mobile field force, as we were trying to do everything we can to make our operation as transparent to the news media as we possibly can.
So now the practice of “embedding” reporters has been extended from the military to the nation’s police departments, which means that only those media willing to go along with the law enforcement program can be assured that they won’t be thrown to the ground, or shoved up against a wall, bloodied, handcuffed, arrested and tossed in jail.
Not surprisingly, coverage of the arrests in the mainstream media — aside from the La Times blog and a short piece in the Washington Post — was virtually nil. Worse, the Associated Press: was apparently alone among MSM in objecting — perhaps because one of its own was picked up:
David Ake, an AP assistant chief of bureau in Washington, said he was concerned by the arrest of [Matt} Rourke, a Philadelphia-based photographer.
"Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage," Ake said. "Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news."
So now we’ve got a double chill action going on. The citizenry is intimidated from exercising their rights by hordes of cops in riot gear using pepper spray, tear gas and flash grenades on protesters. And reporters, who have grown increasingly reluctant to actually chase a story in the flesh, rather than over the phone, are intimidated from covering protests by the prospect of getting arrested while doing their job.
End result? More fear, more complacency, more incomplete or totally contrived “reportage” of events, more citizens who don’t have a clue what’s really going on because it’s never even occurred to them that they might not be getting the whole story on their nightly news.
I was reading a fascinating story in the The New Yorker the other day about the growing nationalism among China’s youth and a comment by a member of that movement, Tang Jie, caught my eye:
Because we are in such a [totalitarian] system, we are always asking ourselves whether we are brainwashed,” he said. “We are always eager to get other information from different channels.” Then he added, “But when you are in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are brainwashed.”
The other day, a reader asked how I proposed effecting change on a consciousness level, and a good place to start is continually questioning whether we’re being brainwashed, and how.
That means getting out there and seeing and experiencing the world for ourselves, and observing carefully, and scrutinizing and reflecting, and when that’s not possible, to have access to media that is willing to go out into the midst of it all and, as Sharif Abdel Kouddous said, “bear witness” and report it back.
Once we’ve got some sense in our own hearts of what’s true, what’s real, then we have to resist, in whatever way feels appropriate to each individual, the forces that work to perpetuate the brainwashing and effectively extinguish life, and we have to speak up — bear witness ourselves in forums public and private — so that others will be reminded they’re not alone, and they needn't be afraid to resist those forces, too.
Through it all we’ve also got to be willing to submit, to yield to new opportunities, ideas, different ways of seeing and doing things, that don’t fit into our preconceived notions, our belief systems, which are merely mental constructs and so function as ongoing personal brainwashing.
It’s through that process of resistance and submission that I see consciousness being changed. And without a shift in consciousness, we can’t expect any of our human systems to change.