What is this world coming to? This is a question I occasionally find myself asking myself or others around me. Even though these days most things don’t really surprise me, sometimes you have to wonder about what you are reading and seeing in the news.
But maybe that’s it – it’s what I read and see in the news. If you hear bad news (or even good news) it is a short, sound-byte driven story that has very little depth. On the surface, a news story could be the worst thing to possibly happen in the world. But with more depth and information beyond the brief story, it may reveal a story that could still be bad – or good – but the more you know, the more you know. This is the idea behind the book All The Troubles In The World.
P.J. O’Rourke is a conservative political satirist. Whether you agree with his politics or not, he makes his point with sarcasm and dry humor that would find someone on the polar opposite politically giving an occasional chuckle. This book, written in 1994 (and sitting on my bookshelf since then), is, as stated on the cover, “the lighter side of overpopulation, famine, ecological disaster, ethnic hatred, plague and poverty.” Lighter side? I asked myself that prior to digging into the dusty pages of this book, one which did give me take-aways.
My biggest takeaway is that you really do need depth to a story. We don’t have time to look into every nuance or wrinkle in everything we see in the news, but more information on the people and scenarios that encircle a story help give it context, and help one make their own opinions on it. Many news Web sites have “related links” to other stories pertaining to a certain news story. I often find myself at Wikipedia when I want a start to get depth in a story.
Another takeaway from the book is you need multiple perspectives on a story, or really anything. There is plenty of talk about liberal or conservative biases in the media. While I am well aware when I see something being spun in a certain direction in front of me, I am able to discern the shaft from the wheat, and see what is truly happening and what is not.
A final takeaway is that we need more humor in our lives. As I write this, I admit I have been grumpy throughout this day. If I had a little more humor or something funny happen to me today, I probably wouldn’t be so grumpy. O’Rourke does this funny very well, in a brainy sort of way.
I recommend All The Troubles In The World to anyone who likes P.J. O’Rourke’s work, or anyone who recalls the news and events from the early 1990’s. It was interesting to read this and think back to that time, and see what has changed, and what has not.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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