A Red River Shoutout

This column appears in this week's Red River Miner:

Rock stars may become passé in my world. I thought they might be on their way out of my heart when Anderson Cooper hit the spotlight, but now that I have seen/heard Michael Ware, “It’s all over Baby Blue”-Dylan. Mr. Ware is a foreign correspondent for CNN that works from the trenches in the old school style similar to Ernie Pyle. With his Aussie accent and broken nose he appears to be more of a brawler than bookish, but the guy gets it. Recently on an episode of HBO’s Bill Maher show he explained the trichotomy of India/Pakistan and Afghanistan more clearly and efficiently than anyone I’ve heard yet. I actually understood what he was saying and why we may be in the predicament we are in. I am aware that perhaps it’s my level of understanding that may be in question rather than the talking heads lack of knowledge, but what matters is that I found a source I am comfortable with.

Pundits argue it’s the dumbing down of America that is the root of all evil and I agree it’s an issue that needs addressing. Sometimes, though, I think mid-level folks like myself get intimidated by our lack of understanding and then just shirk off our duty to follow up on the details when we get overloaded by laundry and carpools. I know understanding the world should be a top priority, but the reality is that it takes a long time to fully understand things like the Middle East. This doesn’t make us bad people for not making the effort, it makes us human, but when we do find our niche/source and have a few spare minutes we need to jump on our obligation to get the big picture if nothing else. How many of us could point to Pakistan on a map? We might do a little better finding Korea with so many of us still living who went there once, a war or two back. Maybe we all just need a periodic refresher course in world events every couple of years to make sure the general public actually understands what they are opposing or supporting. A geography class probably wouldn’t hurt most of us either!

Now that the onslaught of the last political campaign is over, I am just as guilty as the next woman on the street of paying less attention to the issues now that they aren’t thrust into my face night after night. After a long day at work sometimes all I want is peace and quiet. I don’t want to have to think big thoughts after a tough day, but that is a luxury so many of our fellow men don’t have. I don’t have bombs going off in my front yard or no water or food to take care of my family like so many of our neighbors. As a result, I see this opportunity as my personal responsibility to participate in the world I accidentally wound up privy to.

Now that it’s almost time to go back to school, and we all get back to some kind of routine, make learning alongside your child a priority. If you don’t have kids, challenge yourself to learn something new all by yourself. I am sure Michael Ware would love to have you along for the ride.

-- Pats Ratliff

I have to say, Michael's ability to cut through the smoke and mirrors and explain things to the audience is probably the number one comment I hear from people when they 'discover' him. Welcome aboard, Pats!