As a writer, I find myself constantly formulating new pieces to start on. Whether it pertains to this blog, a random creative writing piece, a cover letter for a job application, or even an Instagram caption, I am constantly writing, even when I’m not actually writing.
A conversation with my father prompted me to write this piece, and I found parallels between our meeting with Christina, a German journalist who we were able to meet with while abroad.
I asked my dad a similar question that the refugees had asked us time, and time again. Over dinner of the traditional “American” meal of home-made mashed potatoes, salad, and main course fresh off the barbecue, we discussed what he perceived the Middle East to be like. More specifically, we really narrowed down to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, countries notorious for being war-torn.
He told me his thoughts. That he envisions bombings, innocent lives taken, people losing homes. He really described how much he sees men and women who defend our country, a topic that is close to our hearts. He sees people risking their lives in a foreign place and how much he is grateful for those who decide to be a part of that job force as many of couldn’t even imagine what it is like.
I followed up with a second question, where did you get this information, and do you think it was bias? After realizing our relaxed dinner convo turned into a full-fledge interview mode; it brought forth us picking at each other’s brains. He had a realization after a long pause, “The only way I know about any of this is because of the media. I haven’t talked to refugees like you have, I haven’t travelled to these countries, I haven’t even seen any information from people on the other side of the line, just ours”.
My dad’s perspective is a lot different from Christina’s who travelled to Syria before the war. She shares what it was like to be in a Middle Eastern country, as she was able to grasp all facets of their culture which has allowed her to be more compassionate and understanding towards the refugees resettling in Germany. “I know where they come from, I have a sense for their language. I know about their food, I know about their music”, she adds.
“But Dad”, I went on, “WHY haven’t you travelled to these countries?”. And all he could really mutter upon was of what he’s seen on the news or social media. We then found an amazing article on what Syria was prior to the war, and it was eye opening for him. The images mirrored what we have been told stories of, everywhere down to the vibrancy.
This is what Christina has seen, and been exposed to. But is that we as Americans see in our news sources?
My dad realized his perspective of these countries being so falsely accused of their terror may be wrong, but it’s all he, and many, many people have known. It’s the only way they have access to areas of the world, and it’s going to be biased.
We agreed that the media is the biggest power house he has seen in his time for areas of information. He might have muttered somewhere in there about millennials and our inability to retain information due to the constant flow of information we’re getting, but that’s a whole other story. It has me thinking, what makes the media that Christina has been exposed to Germany, so different from ours? That she didn’t succumb to the shit that is posted out there. If there are really these particular events happening all over the globe, it doesn’t make sense that it is being represented differently world-wide.
I invited you to ponder this, and search within the inside of your being to find that courage and remove yourself from the stigma that our media creates. Create your OWN thoughts. The only way to do that is to step outside of your comfort zone. Formulate your own processes, and let those be how you dictate people. Not because you read in article by CNN that you tangibly did something, and can proudly say it. Perhaps you are the changing force that allows you to write your own article, like we are. Seeing things for yourself is a lot more striking then it is to read.
All in all, follow Green Day’s Advice. Don’t be that American idiot that has only seen things from the eyes of another person, and is too intimidated to seek the joy of things out for themselves. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and put aside prior notions of what someone has been telling you. It’s pretty wonderful.
“Don’t wanna be an American idiot
Don’t want a nation under the new media”