Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Along Without Help From Oprah

I have to assert that the people in this world who are the most heroic are those facing challenges alone, coping with grief and endless obstacles, bearing the full weight of hardship without being aided in any way. They do great things and help others without comfort from TV show mavens, and without viral videos circulating the web. We are all equal, but the light of the sun does not reach all plants. Storms and hardship determine fate often, despite intentions, planning, preparation, and gratitude in everday life. Life, like Oprah, is essentially unfair. It is an indisputable reality that not everyone in this world can do what they love, have a great idea, and turn it into a business empire. THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH is that with or without gratitude journals, all kinds of human stories of success and confounding tragedy deserve to be told. But, like airbrushing of photographs, reality has to be filtered, and sanitized before it is deemed worthy of coverage. The people living within those realities who cannot be sanitized, even with powerful, instructive lessons to teach and share, are tossed into the abyss, a file of human beings to be ignored and dismissed as unmarketable or, perhaps worst of all, unworthy of recognition and help. Soon, Oprah and every TV news outlet will be parading the witnesses and survivors of the Arizona shooting in a sad, too familiar parade.

The horrible truth behind the myth of help from TV is that not every child deserves hope, prayers aren't always answered, dreams, trips, giveaways happen to a calculated few, and that no one, not even Oprah, can or will be able to reach everyone. Often, the most talented actors and singers can't find work while the same lucky few are overexposed over and over again. Chances on YOU will not be taken, Dr. Phil won't advise you, Nate Berkus isn't coming to freshen up your living space, and when your younger brother dies of cancer, no one will set up a scholarship in his honor. The ladies on THE VIEW wont even bring you up in a "lukewarm" topic. When life gets harder and harder, people die around you, you are stricken with an illness, you simply don't exist. Unless you are a star. But you are welcome to tune in daily to seek inspiration from the trumpeted success of others that you can never achieve without the same recognition and resources. If this depresses you, the essential unfairness, then the problem must be how YOU are interpreting things, you must be missing the message of hope and healing. You must be missing the "aha" moment you need. Or, likely, you just cannot relate the sanitized stories to your own real life experience.

Not every mother, father, son or daughter can take a fantastic project and turn it into the next "big thing". More airtime is spent dwelling on those who are already covered by the press, who have already succeeded or are merely wealthy, who have already become stars. Not everyone who deserves to be loved, recognized, helped and thanked will get their due. Ever. Most of us will live and die without the light of day being shone upon us. But we know and tolerate that no one talks about us, those of us living in the cracks where there is no light or compassion. People who are brave and have endured unfathomable, painful experiences, more often than not, go without recognition, are often ignored, and sometimes punished. What do the Kardashians have to fight for? The Palins? The celebrities standing up against hate, are they fighting hate as hard as those being beaten? Do Real Housewives of New Jersey have to fight the way the 9/11 first responders fought to get healthcare coverage that was due them? The coverage they get is a symptom of what is wrong with our media. I applaud Oprah for talking for years about serious topics, and for adding elements of well-being to daytime. But there have been decades of missed opportunities for more celebrating the ordinary, and offering wider messages of hope to people not hungry for celebrity encounters, or merely being in their presence. If we are all equals, then more recognition and light should be shown to all, even those with life problems for whom thee are no easy answers, no bestselling books to learn from. There is true universality in that. Sadly, the Universe has become the White Elephant in the room.

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