Part 4—Satya shortfalls: Our broken intellectual culture is badly in need of transfusions.
In part for that reason, we were thrilled when we watched the tape of the United Nations address Malala Yousafzai offered last July.
“I’m not against anyone,” this very unusual person said, and the emphasis was hers. She went on to define her spiritual/political lineage.
We were pleased and impressed by what we saw. Malala had just turned 16 as she defined this heritage:
MALALA (7/12/13): Dear sisters and brothers! I am not against anyone.We’ll buy all those basic ideas! On our cable “news channels,” of course, the values are often quite different.
Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group.
I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists.
I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him.
This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha.
This is the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhiji, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa.
And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother.
On cable, the glory of being against someone is the basic product. Much as Hannity does on Fox, Rachel Maddow trains us in this stance every night of the week.
Maddow doesn’t proceed in the ranting manner of Lawrence of Dorchestia and Chris Matthews. That said, we were struck, this Monday night, by the unfortunate tone of her program.
With admiration, we had viewed that U.N. address a number of times this weekend. We returned to Maddow’s ocean of snark—and to her satya shortfall!
What is a satya shortfall? Wandering souls, let’s review:
Malala affirmed “the philosophy of nonviolence” she had learned from Gandhi. In Stride Toward Freedom, Dr. King describes the way he was led to Gandhi’s teachings when he was still a young man.
It’s commonly said that Gandhi promulgated “eleven vows.” Because we don’t know a great deal about Gandhi, we haven’t linked to any particular account of those “vows,” although they’re easily googled.
That said, one such vow was the vow of satya, commonly rendered as “truth.” We’d say that Maddow, not unlike Hannity, has a rather constant shortfall in this area. It seems designed to help us achieve a heightened state of being against.
Should our culture get back on Satya Road? The leading authority on Gandhi’s life has this to say about the general topic:
WIKIPEDIA: Gandhi dedicated his life to the wider purpose of discovering truth, or Satya. He tried to achieve this by learning from his own mistakes and conducting experiments on himself. He called his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth.Say what? Dr. King referred to that old Satyagraha during his most famous speech?
The essence of Satyagraha (a name Gandhi invented meaning "adherence to truth") is that it seeks to eliminate antagonisms without harming the antagonists themselves and seeks to transform or "purify" it to a higher level. A euphemism sometimes used for Satyagraha is that it is a "silent force" or a "soul force" (a term also used by Martin Luther King Jr. during his famous "I Have a Dream" speech). It arms the individual with moral power rather than physical power.
For ourselves, we sometimes think we see the “moral power” draining from Maddow. The reasons include her endless snark and her frequent lack of satya.
The snark is constant on Maddow’s program; it’s always aimed at The Others. She loves to comment on flip-flops by Them while ignoring the flip-flops by Us.
We liberals tend to love her snark; it signals that we’re The Good People. On the down side, this tends to enhance those “antagonisms,” the ones Gandhi sought to eliminate.
Beyond that, the satya shortfalls are frequent on Maddow’s program. Last evening, her first five minutes was soaked in one such shortfall. On the brighter side, we got to hear constant references to the Confederate flag, and to dreams of secession being held by the very bad Other Tribe.
This made us feel like we’re the good people. Did viewers realize that Rachel’s satya may have been slipping a tad?
Good God, those shortfalls! Last week, we watched Maddow do her third complete report about the “voter purge” in Virginia. We wondered why we hadn’t seen much about this “purge” in the Washington Post, which has generally been pretty tough about efforts at voter suppression.
We searched the Post and sure enough! There had been a rather basic shortfall in Maddow’s reports, although this shortfall had of course served a good tribal cause.
That said, what does it mean to be “against” people in the way Malala rejected? To puzzle that out, consider Maddow’s brain-dead reports this week about Rand Paul’s “plagiarism.”
In fairness, there is no doubt that some speech writer for Paul copied two passages from Wikipedia. In each case, the passage was nothing more than a summary of the plot of a well-known movie.
That’s a very dumb thing to do, but it’s thoroughly, screamingly insignificant. Unless you’re trying to teach cable viewers how to be against the other tribe, full satya be danged.
Hannity brings this destructive culture to Them; Maddow brings it to Us. All week long, she has obsessed on this utterly trivial point, training us to be “against” in the dumbest way possible.
Monday evening, we were struck by the difference in tone between Malala’s speech and Maddow’s program. Malala tracks her tone to Gandhi. Let’s hear a bit more from the leading authority on his beliefs and ideals:
WIKIPEDIA: Gandhi influenced important leaders and political movements. Leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States, including Martin Luther King, James Lawson, and James Bevel, drew from the writings of Gandhi in the development of their own theories about non-violence. King said, "Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics."...If anyone doubts that such a one as Maddow walks the earth, they can always change the channel and watch an hour of Hannity.
In his early years, the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was a follower of the non-violent resistance philosophy of Gandhi. Bhana and Vahed commented on these events as "Gandhi inspired succeeding generations of South African activists seeking to end White rule. This legacy connects him to Nelson Mandela...in a sense Mandela completed what Gandhi started."
...In 1931, notable European physicist Albert Einstein exchanged written letters with Gandhi, and called him "a role model for the generations to come" in a later writing about him. Einstein said of Gandhi:
“Mahatma Gandhi's life achievement stands unique in political history. He has invented a completely new and humane means for the liberation war of an oppressed country, and practised it with greatest energy and devotion. The moral influence he had on the consciously thinking human being of the entire civilized world will probably be much more lasting than it seems in our time with its overestimation of brutal violent forces. Because lasting will only be the work of such statesmen who wake up and strengthen the moral power of their people through their example and educational works. We may all be happy and grateful that destiny gifted us with such an enlightened contemporary, a role model for the generations to come.
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood.”
We know, we know—it’s not the same thing! It’s not the same because our tribe is moral, correct and good!
We’ll only say that our failing culture is badly in need for transfusion. Malala transfuses from the Great Souls.
Is Maddow transfusing from Fox?