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The Shepherd's Heart: Who's behind the curtain?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

There is a line in the 1939 American musical fantasy "The Wizard of Oz" that goes something like, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." The next shot is that of a man pulling levers and pushing buttons and trying his best to maintain an illusion that apparently was powerful enough to keep people under his control.

With all of his "technology" he could change the sound of his voice into a scary and authoritative demonstration of supposed power. With the levers and buttons he could make smoke billow and make lights flash and cast a three dimensional "face" on the nearby wall.

If it wasn't for Toto running under the curtain and pulling it back to reveal the mastermind behind the illusion, all might have been lost for young Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.

Today, I fear we are once again under the hypnotic spell of a massive and collective illusion. We are not sure what to believe or who to believe. We are not sure if the Wizard is really the harsh and critical bully he appears to be or if he is just a gentle snake-oil salesman from the Midwest who got lost along his way, ended up in Emerald City, and is now just trying to survive in a strange and totally unfamiliar environment.

One thing is for sure, however. This time it's not a single man who is pulling the levers and pushing the buttons.

If Toto were here to pull back the curtain, I believe we would find the small hidden console from which Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (OZPINHEAD -- better known to most of us as The Great and Terrible OZ) worked his magic has been converted into a thousand control rooms from which network and cable news programs are produced and dispersed around the world.

And like the Tin Man and his colleagues, we are ever ready to accept as truth what we see on our television screens as reality. We shiver; we cower; we try to run and hide. We lose our sense of self and join the crowd bowing down to the projected image.

Few dare to question the gatekeepers. Too few ask for proof of what the image controllers choose to show us. Far too few listen when the very few speak of what's right and wrong with the images we receive.

Maybe we stayed too long in the poppy fields lining the yellow brick road.

Where's Toto when you need him?

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Ummm ... who's "ever ready to accept as truth what we see on our television screens as reality"?

Not I. And not anyone else who thinks for himself or herself.

Ever since the advent of broadsheets and newspapers, it has been apparent that editors, publishers, columnists, and now broadcasting networks and their newsreaders each have a particular slant on the news -- even the Marshall Democrat-News.

"Far too few listen when the very few speak of what's right and wrong with the images we receive," Mr. Stewart says. Oh? And who are the very few with the amazing power to discern right and wrong? I've met a few who would like you to think they know it all, but usually they don't know much at all.

I'm afraid I've missed the point of this column.

-- Posted by Pragmatist on Thu, Sep 3, 2009, at 4:14 PM

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BOB G. STEWART, Columnist
The Shepherd's Heart