When I was a 7-year-old girl President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was in second grade. My home room was at afternoon Music class. Our music teacher sat at the front of the room, at her piano–our home room teacher took a seat by the window. Beyond the piano was a door, and behind that door, an office. The office door was the kind with milky, opaque glass. Half way through class, another teacher poked her head through the door and asked both the music and homeroom teachers to come into the other room. They did. We sat, hands in laps, waiting.
Through the dense glass we saw the silhouettes of our teachers falling upon each other. Moments later, my classmates and I began looking around at each other, alarmed, because our teachers were audibly sobbing. After a few minutes they returned, saying they had sad news they did not want to give us, as we had been very good boys and girls: Our handsome President, John F. Kennedy, was dead. Upset at the news, and equally frightened by the sight of our teachers losing control of their emotions, most of us burst into tears. School ended early that day; a national tragedy sent parents flying to school to pick up their children, as nobody could continue through the day, and nobody felt safe.
The next day, I and my little grade school classmates sat at our lunch table and talked about how, if we could get our hands on the man who killed our President, we would pound the life out of him, run a train over him, suffocate him, poison him, or find guns and shoot him so he would know what it felt like. We slammed our metal lunch boxes on the table for emphasis and pounded our fists. And we cried some more.
We weren’t really being brave, but it felt easier to be brave in those days. Bravery was rewarded. Media was so much more pure; full of wonder. It was through this new and wonderful window that we took part in the nation’s mourning. Life was simply…presented. Raw, in black and white, often unscripted, no shock graphics.
I don’t know where I’m going with this except to say that true bravery, these days, is hard to find. Politicians, pundits and media feign bravery—but almost inevitably we are disappointed in so many of our leaders. What Jon Stewart was saying at his rally was that media and politicians are pandering to base emotions, especially fear. They’ve set us upon each other, like rabid dogs. We have become rabid dogs. So overwhelmed by life are we that we hang everything upon the last soundbite; it’s almost as if we want to ignite loathing. We must not be aware if we’re not loathing something or somebody.
And yet the mainstream media, in its perpetual mission to whip us into a frenzy (even seemingly grounded and realistic NPR), in large part wasn’t brave enough to attend a rally organized by two television show hosts. Ok, two really smart television show hosts.
I support candidates who have shown true bravery here in Jackson and Teton County: Franz Camenzind and Len Carlman. I stand with them. With so many fine people running for office this election, choices are hard. But these two candidates are not influenced by unsustainable agendas, power trips, or money. They’re the real deal, the kind of leaders that, most of the time, we can only dream about.