PART OF WHAT’S WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY

It’s 12:30pm Mountain Time. Here’s how my day has been spent so far:

Trip to grocery store. Left at about 9am.Couldn’t find King’s Soopers, even though Peggy had drawn me a very detailed map. Stopped at an Albertsons. Couldn’t find my way home, but found both King’s Soopers trying to do so. Got totally lost, ended up almost in the mountains, when I should have been heading east. Finally turned on GPS, which decided it was time for an update. Pulled over to wait for it to find all the new roads since the last update that happened when I was in the middle of traffic, and got home at about 11:30.

Finally found Peggy’s, though I’ve already left and found my way back at least a dozen times in the last week. Started making chili — reason I went to store was to pick up missing ingredients — and realized I hadn’t picked up meat. Or peppers. Used the last 1/2 pepper we had, the minced onion/pepper/black olive we had in a bowl from — don’t remember, but we used it for something. Found the veggie crumbles and threw them in instead of the meat. So here we are.

Thought you’d like to know I’ve figured out what’s wrong with our country.

It’s TV.

Remember when we only had three channels? And had to get out of a chair, walk across the floor and turn the knob?  We didn’t need a TV Guide. We knew what was on each channel at any given point in time. 

Soap operas were 15 minutes long. Sometimes we argued over what show to watch — because they were all good — even “My Mother, The Car.”

TV was entertaining, the acting was good, the variety shows made us laugh out loud, and Masterpiece Theater was a must-see.

Now, we have 4-600 channels. Here’s what’s on at this very moment:

The Steve Wilkos Show – parents take lie detector tests to proove they don’t abuse their children.    

Excused: Dating show – contestants try to find true love while eliminating one person at a time.   

The Talk — Brooke Shields, Katey Sagal, chef Aaron Sanchez.

Judge Mathis – a woman and her ex-fiance accuse one another of being alcoholics.   

Sid the Science Kid — Sid is disappointed when his cardboard wings don’t work.      

General Hospital – Molly presses her sister to tell her which man she chooses to live with.  

The Doctors — “The Doctors Get Their Game On” — play health-related games.                 

Judge Joe Brown – a woman is accused of using an unauthorized food-stamp card.    

Sons of Guns – Will and the crew are tasked with creating a sniper rifle silencer. 

Flashpoint — police show.  

Everybody Loves Raymond — not a bad sit-com, but it’s a 24-hour marathon.     

 Zumba fitness 

Joseph Prince Ministries   

Ice Elements Skin Care       

NCIS – marathon – 20009 (have to admit — I’ve been known to watch this)

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse       

Animal Cops: Extreme Exotics

Looney Tunes       

American Restoration

CNN Newsroom          

The First 48 – story of a young man who is shot to death

Wife Swap – A family preparing for the end of the world – trade wealthy wife    

 Coast Guard Alaska – Helicopter rescue     

Fascinating Gem Facets (shopping channel)     

The Princess Bride – cute fairy tale — not bad  

Keeping up with the Kardashians (why do we care?) 

The Waltons – John Boy’s third novel is rejected      

Toddlers & Tiaras, followed of course by  

Honey, Honey Boo Boo                

 Bait Car    

 Beerfest (movie)   

 Mean Girls — “The Suite Life on Deck.”                                                                                                                                                  

I can’t do this any more — but there are about 300 more channels with equally excellent programming. 

And yet, we sit for hours in front of the boob tube every night. It’s no wonder no one thinks rationally anymore. We’re getting our thought processes from  “Swamp People,” “Jerry Springer,” “Cajun Justice,” “Las Vegas Jailhouse.”  The list of White Trash TV is endless. And it’s on 24-hours a day. 

There are only a few shows I really like — Castle, Revenge, the NCIS  (Original and New York) series, Big Brother, Survivor, and the Bachelorette/Bachelor series (though it’s primarily because the show is so unrealistic and the people on Top Chef have a better record of permanent relationships.)  Oh, and I like Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.  I’m kind of over the Heidi Klum thing, but there’s another fashion designer show where the winning outfits are for sale the next day at Macy’s, Nieman Marcus or H & M. You see these designers making money immediately. That’s pretty cool.  The show may end up with one winner, but the rest of the contestents make money and a name for themselves along the way.

But the rest of the reality series? Holy crap.  I know. There’s no script, they pay the people about $3000 a show, and there’s not much work involved.   But I, for one, wouldn’t mind going back to three channels with great shows on each. Shows the family could watch together rather than mom in the bedroom watching America’s Next Top Model, dad in the reclining chair in the living room sleeping through a game of golf and the kids in their bedrooms watching God only knows what. 

No wonder our culture is going to hell in a handbasket. Kids are killing their schoolmates. Wives murder their husbands. A husband kills his wife because she’s too liberal. There are known plots to kill President Obama before the election. States are passing laws against teaching progressive thinking and sex education. A US Senator reads scriptures about killing the president and his children being homeless and abandoned by their communities. Government is telling insurance companies what they should and shouldn’t cover. Priests abuse children and are sent to another parrish. A friend posted on Facebook this morning that only the New Testament should be taught. How many of us does that eliminate? Me, for one. 

I can’t say for sure that these things are being learned from watching too much White Trash, radical, violent TV, but it’s got to be coming from somewhere — and we can’t say it’s not from church, because churches have been telling people how to vote for years, and let’s not forget Westboro Baptist. There are nuts in every religion.

My dad was a renigade. In the 50’s he taught me that all people are equal until they proved themselves different. There’s a picture of me sitting on the Capitol steps beside a little black girl — we were looking at each other like “who the heck are you?” I still love that picture, because obviously, the other family was made of renigades, too.  I don’t know where my mother was during that picture-taking session, but if she was there, her arms were crossed and there was a glare on her face that would have melted concrete. 

I’m not sure what they even saw in each other. They certainly had nothing in common. Mom would step away from me if we were walking down the street and I spoke to a black schoolmate. She only wanted me to have Baptist friends — Southern Baptist friends. When “Rabbit” Clower pierced my ears before I went on stage to perform in an opera at church, my mother blew up. “Only niggers and cleaning women have their ears pierced.”

I am my father’s child. I had friends of different ethnic groups most of my life.  My old Charleston High friends have been talking about how much diversity there was in our school, and that we didn’t even notice at the time. So, I raised Abbi the way my dad raised me. Believing that all people were to be accepted and respected until they gave her a reason not to.

So as far as TV is concerned, as much as I love Castle and NCIS (if for no other reason that to watch Mark Harmon), I’d give them up in a minute to see The Carol Burnette Show, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, Our Show of Shows, Peter Gunn, The Lone Ranger (where the good guy always won but you never saw the blood). The variety and sitcoms taught us to laugh at ourselves and that it was OK for everyone in the family to like the same show.  We spent our evenings together and never made plans around what night a given show was on. The drama shows had a lesson hidden in the script. And it never occurred to any of us that Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke was a hooker. 

But again, that’s just me. I’m sure there other answers out there, but our TV habits have to play a part, even if it’s a small one. 

For now, I’m going to go finish off a John Connolly book and have warm cornbread made by the time Peggy gets home. And you? Stay safe out there. Live your life to the fullest. And smile at someone you don’t know.