Is There Any Good That Comes From The Media?
My response is this: No Man is an island. As members of this shrinking globe, we cannot live in a vacuum. Of course there exists good journalism out there. Becoming aware of injustices is the only way in which they can be recognized and changes implemented for the good of humanity. The recent upheaval in the Middle East is a perfect example of how mass social media can effect a positive change. You-tube and i-phones have forever changed our perspective of world events. These media have provided an open lens for the world exposing injustices that had been previously obscured in the name of censorship.
A great example of good journalism surfaced several weeks ago when George Clooney returned from the Sudan where he saw first hand the impending hunger crisis being caused by President Omar al-Bashir who has blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching hundred of thousands of starving Sudanese.
Recently in Washington, DC, Clooney masterfully utilized the media for such a just cause. As he, his father, Nick Clooney, Martin Luther King III, and others were marching in protest on the Sudanese Embassy, they were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for crossing a police line. The entire event was captured by the news media and streamed around the world, successfully raising the conscience of our globe to the horrific crimes against humanity by this terrible dictator.
It is my firm belief that this year the American Academy of Motion Pictures should allow two things that have never before occurred. The Academy should forego the nomination process and give the Oscar for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor to George Clooney — though not for the reasons one might think.
As a successful man of media, an actor, film director, producer and screenwriter, George Clooney has achieved a level of success, wealth and notoriety envied by many. He is arguably one of the most recognized people living in the world today. It would be easy for him to bask in his celebrity and spend his leisure time savoring the finest material things life has to offer, but George has chosen a quite different path.
Many stars who have achieved similar fame and fortune seem to misplace their energy and influence on less noble, ego-driven goals, ascribing too much importance on their material acquisitions.
George Clooney is different. He has been on a mission for many years to assist those less fortunate than he. I once read a story about how in middle school he developed Bell’s palsy resulting in his face being partially paralyzed for almost a year. Cruelly mocked and taunted by other classmates, he experienced first hand what it was like to be among the less fortunate. No doubt an important life lesson grew from that pain. It seems he has used that experience to dedicate his life to the downtrodden.
In recent years, George has worked feverishly to save lives of people he doesn’t know and who will never know of him. He has leveraged his notoriety and fame attempting to raise awareness through the media around the globe to the genocide in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been murdered and millions have been displaced.
What drives a man to leave the comforts of life and the security of home, putting himself in harm’s way in order to help others in need? I am certain George realizes that what compels him to action and encourages his perseverance is something far greater than himself.
Instead of enjoying a glass of wine at his Italian villa, George Clooney was being arrested with other activists by the U.S. Secret Service outside the Sudanese embassy.
Why didn’t George choose to be in Italy on that day? The answer is simple. It is his dharma; it is George Clooney’s purpose that drives this Mission Man.
Some believe that we purposefully come into this existence with a specific goal to achieve. Many of us mistakenly believe our purpose is to become successful, wealthy and perhaps famous. Certainly George has accomplished each of those, but he has soared to a place of much higher consciousness where he has discovered a lesson we all should strive to learn.
Albert Einstein once wrote: “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the universe, a part limited by space and time. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion . . .”
It is from this consciousness that George has learned to “love thy neighbor as thy self”, not just because it is a nice thing to do, but because thy neighbor is thy self, despite living half a world away.
Clooney has discovered that we all connected, that the suffering of each person in this world is our suffering. Each child dying of starvation in Darfur is our child dying; each death of a Syrian protester fighting for freedom is our death. It is only when we realize this, that we can become whole.
In no way do I mean to minimize his great accomplishments as an actor and director, but I believe George Clooney’s life up to this point has been preparatory, setting the stage for his greatest accomplishment yet . . . saving lives of innocent human beings. He lives what is written in the Torah and Koran, “If you can save one life, you can change the world.”
Indeed, the Oscar should go to George as “Best Actor”, not because he can read a script and act out a part better than anyone else. He should receive it because he is demonstrating to the rest of us how the “Best” in an actor or anyone else can truly make a significant difference in our world. As far as “Best Supporting Actor”, let the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese whose lives he has and will save as a result of his efforts cast their vote for the actor who is best supporting them.