Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Boyling Point

Andy Warhol’s famous observations casually tossed like a bone to a hungry paparazzi seem to be even more relevant in our real time, fast food world than they were when he quipped them nearly half a century ago.

Warhol believed, with good reason, that the mainstream media could enable anyone to achieve “instant” celebrity status whether they deserved it or not, even if that fame only lasted a fleeting 15 minutes - or until the media diverted the public’s attention on to another shiny new object.

Today's carnivorous media can gobble up the raw and unseasoned with manufactured fame as soon as their prey has been blinded by the spotlight. Differing variations of the formula media blitz have been played out for the public’s viewing pleasure time and again, where everyone can watch with morbid fascination as the wide-eyed deer in the spotlight is shamelessly fawned and fattened on praise before being publicly roasted and devoured on the spit.

And no meal ticket for the barbeque could ever be sold without the self-promoting Troll on the Bridge (see definition below), since clearly, someone has to take credit for luring that deer out of the forest, and then serve as the toll taker who shrewdly optimizes the deer's 15 minutes by selling as many tickets as possible.

With one look in the rear view mirror where objects may appear larger than they are, we realize the “15 minutes of fame” factor is simply a litmus test for staying power. Perhaps even a succinct way to separate those who’ve laid the foundation and worked with focused commitment toward a personal goal from those who have not, which can extend to include the wannabes and the could-bes.

No doubt media neophyte Susan Boyle has had a crash course in dog-eat-dog since her April 11, 2009 debut on “Britain’s Got Talent”, and her subsequent record-breaking YouTube viewings of the shockingly wonderful performance which firmly placed her name on the lips of a global population at a speed never before seen.

Sneering pre-performance assessments were conspicuously rendered by Ms. Boyle’s talent judges, the audience, and even the world as all watched the frumpy, middle-aged, unemployed spinster courageously step out center stage in pursuit of her dream. (And to think she would’ve been disqualified for being too old to perform on the “American Idol” version of the same show).

While over four decades of hard work and personal commitment obviously preceded that pivotal moment when Susan Boyle found herself “discovered”, we find it difficult not to wonder if there wasn’t more to it than just luck and timing, for her pivotal moment resembled that of a “perfect storm” where each ingredient blended together at precisely the right moment to influence the destiny of all parties connected.

Only time will tell if the decades of prep work Ms. Boyle invested in her craft will give her the staying power necessary to go beyond the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. But what we really want to know is what components must perfectly intersect and coalesce in order to create those fateful moments of manifestation?

One way to cure memory loss can be found in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 27, 2009 posting "Big Brother Goes Hard…Drive, That Is".

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Century Nurturing

While April may’ve popped out of March’s Spring box like a Fool, May Day ushered in a new month filled with ancient traditions celebrating motherhood, fertility, and some light-hearted dancing around a Maypole.

Since history’s beginning, the Mother archetype has been recognized as the creator and sustainer of life, the nurturer, the caregiver, and even the soft heart of humanity. Although science has attempted to create and grow human life within the confines of a sterile laboratory, the hard-wired role of suckling and socialization belongs to the Mother and the nurturer’s influence has few limitations.

Today’s challenging economic times and shriveling job markets have revealed an interesting paradigm shift where we've begun to see men outnumbering women in the loss of high paying jobs. This has resulted in women steadily becoming the household’s primary breadwinner while more men remain at home to care for the family.

Familial units pulling together through troubled times is an admirable approach, yet with men increasingly playing a more substantial role on the home front, the country is beginning to rumble with the outcries of indignant male nurturers. The men who’ve dared to step into the important role of caretaker are now experiencing firsthand how thankless and invisible our society tends to perceive the function, so much so that many have even formed their own support groups.

To discount this paradigmatic transition as merely a movement toward the feminization of men would be unsound, since nurturing is gender neutral and essential for all humans, male and female, to flourish. Nurturing is the glue of any thriving civilization, and its existence-or non-existence, defines what that society will look like.

A culture that values the health and balanced well-being of its community finds it incumbent upon itself to recognize and support those who perform the necessary communal role of nurturer for it views nurturing as a form of preventative medicine. In contrast is the culture that believes nurturing to be a “give me”, requiring little or no investment…an approach that fosters nurturer burnout and outright neglect, with consequences most easily observed in an overflowing prison system.

We got a fleeting glimpse in the rear view mirror of Marion Robinson quietly moving in to the White House after The Big BOPR’s (see definition below) inauguration. There were those who loudly argued the unnecessary expense to the nation of supporting a grandmother in the White House. The arguments unfortunately gave no consideration to the possibility that the hard costs of supporting Ms. Robinson in caring for her grandchildren could save us far more than the costs of a First Family neglected

Sadly, in the red and black world of dollars and cents - coupled with the myopic belief that if it’s invisible and intangible, it has little or no value and should therefore be free – the hue and cry about "letting Ms. Robinson move in" offered little mention of the great personal sacrifices this mother and grandmother has had to make in order to provide a loving, stable environment for her family, as undervalued as that may seem in our bipolar American society.

With today’s paradigm shift, the systemic adjustments now in progress are by no means limited to the overhaul of our economic and financial structures, but reverberate to include a significant realignment of our value systems as well. So what really costs society more: the true cost of nurturing or the true cost of neglect?

For community outreach American-style, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 31, 2008 posting "The American Myth".