The volume of the street notched up the decibels, radios drowning out traffic noises, voices lowered for a moment, ears tuned in, heads tilted toward the nearest plastic speaker box.
Top of the hour. I glanced at my watch to confirm, quickening my pace. I was still two blocks from my destination and now late.
The ability to tell time by the top of the hour started long before I came to the unholy land called Israel. For me, it was natural, keeping me in touch with the world around me as I traveled through its vastness. But never had I been around an entire culture obsessed with the news on the hour.
They had to be. Each 5 minute news summary dictated where you did your shopping, how you commuted back home, and where to avoid as you traveled through town and country as terrorism dictated our paths.
In the artificial security of North American borders, National Public Radio (NPR), Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC), Voice of America (VOA), or Public Radio International (PRI) drew me close to my radio hourly. A break in the hour to make a cup of tea and peek in on the violence, politics, and other mayhem in the world around me.
These 3-5 minute moments, 6-10 times a day, are my window on the world. I am intrigued, aggravated, repelled, and infuriated at what I hear, and even find myself shouting at the radio for the ignorance, stupidity, and redundancy of humanity, yet return to the corner of the room to turn up the volume at the top of the hour again and again. It’s a sick addiction.
These condensed snippets and tidbits dislodge the bricks in my brain to let light shine into the dark places. A report on the human impact and destruction of nature and global warming makes me ponder my impact on the nature around me in both small and large ways as I step on an ant and slide more paper into the color printer. A forest fire hundreds or thousands of miles away reminds me of my youth living in the forested foothills of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, and a chill shivers down my spine with fearful memories of such fires. A celebrity is killed in a car accident and I consider driving more carefully next time I step away from my home radio to listen to my car radio as I drive.
A new name seeps into my consciousness. Kaitlin Jennings. The radio host explains that this is the former Olympian and gold medal winner, Bruce Jenner, turned transgender female. While so much about this compels and intrigues me, it isn’t my business, nor really should it be the business of the world, except that it is the Jennings/Kardashian business and economy to get the world to watch. I turn away disinterested until I hear them describe a petition to have the International Olympic Committee strip her of his Olympic gold medals because, and I quote, “He, now she, admits she always knew she was a woman inside.” Since she knew that he was female at the time of the competition, and such knowledge violates the IOC regulations that state that men cannot compete in female competitions, and vise versa…
As foolish as this is, I race back to my computer and my fingers fly across the keyboard as I consider the impact of our thoughts, long before we actually make a decision and take action upon them – and the consequences of such thoughts – George Orwell would smile at this news and be inspired.