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spectators

spectatorsA significant proportion of high school construction costs are in the attached Coliseum. This artifact helps teach the masses that do-ers are select and few while watchers are common. Even players of one act are watchers for most shows. “Nearly all of you are designed to watch.” The mass media monopoly takes over after graduation, reinforcing this lesson for life.

Whether it is musical performing, acting, sports, research or any other endeavor, our media-dominated culture celebrates precious few, relegating to the masses passive observation. This is particularly handy if, for example, you are part of a ruling class that wants a compliant peasant class comfortable believing every statement from podiums, stages and specially-designated actors.

Some of us fall through the cracks. We would rather play mediocre music, drive low-rent race cars, shoot merely better than average, run half-fast, celebrate our own creativity and live a participatory life. Watchers may disdain “being the big fish in a small pond”, but I will take right field on a city-league co-ed team over box seats watching professionals play stick-and-ball games.

This mentality carries over into most aspects of life. I listen to the certified medical expert with a willingness to believe him – or not. His prescription has to make sense to me. Politicians get no free ride; no dumb following out of me. I find as much fiction as fact in school-teachers’ pronouncements. It is incumbent on the observer to evaluate the show for validity. I am saddened for those who don’t.

Television is a special type of spectating in that the medium precludes consideration. That is, the messages come at you so rapidly and steadily the brain has to accept them. This is well described by one-time master of the trade Jerry Mander. If you spend any time at all with this intermediary, you should understand how it works.

I gave up a lot of Sunday afternoons watching really big boys playing ball games. At the end of the day, it was good or not-so-good based entirely on events far away that happened to people who weren’t ME. When Monday asked me “How was your weekend?” I was happy with what I had built, developed, DONE Saturday and Sunday morning, but looking back on my hours as a couch potato held no particular sense of accomplishment and, therefore, joy.

Just as an afternoon of spectating carries no pride of completion, neither does a week, a month, year or lifetime. You meet old men whose best memories were of military service in their late teens. There and then they were extremely involved in their own lives. This was no casual spectator sport for anyone there.

Think about that: 90 years into this life and the most living they did was a year in a war zone.

I have a stack of great experiences and highly animated tales to tell. Missy loves flipping my ON switch to get me going with nearly any of them. But I have a pile more of them up ahead. I hope you do too.