Last Monday the Newton Minow Political Discourse Club, a group of retired people, came to the coffee shop for their weekly session. Samuel Terravosky seemed to have the biggest number of complaints. He didn’t like Meet the Press and he didn’t like Fox News and he thought the networks failed to cover any serious news such as defining the issues of Brexit or political corruption in South Africa or elections in Armenia.
“All they want to do is talk about the President’s tweets. Like he’s a cartoon figure and Sylvester the Cat is coming around the corner. There’s more news than these problematic messages.”
I tuned him out when he reached back to Richard Nixon.
Strawberry Kaimakamian came back from serving pastries to the group and said, “That group—that so-called Newton Minow club—is beginning to argue about the President and news organizations. Do you think we should stop them before it gets too loud?”
“Not at all. They have healthy conversations. They call themselves the Newton Minow Political Discourse Club for a reason. Minow headed the FCC—the Federal Communications Commission. He called television a ‘vast wasteland’ back in the 1960s. I wonder what he thinks now. That group will mind their manners.”
“Even when they’re talking about the President? People seem to forget civility when he comes up. And it’s not my generation, but your generation that keeps breaking the rules.
“You know I’m still reading the book by Dag Hammarskjold. He was a wise man. I keep going back to what he said about the idea of celebrity and from what I know, he must have been warning himself. I’ve got it in my backpack. I’ll get it for you.”
Strawberry returned while I was helping a customer decide on walnut or pistachio ma’moul. She waited until I finished.
“Listen to this. It’s brilliant!
Around a man who has been pushed into the limelight, a legend begins to grow as it does around a dead man. But a dead man is in no danger of yielding to the temptation to nourish his legend, or accept its picture as reality. I pity the man who falls in love with his image as it is drawn by public opinion during the honeymoon of publicity.
“Isn’t that a beautiful warning? Can’t you just hear him? Do you think Ms. Anne would post this somewhere? Can’t people understand that what others think of them doesn’t matter? What matters is our moral sense, our integrity. That’s an old-fashioned word, integrity. I’m beginning to like it a lot. What do you think?”
“I think we’ve gotten into a heavy conversation for two people working in a coffee shop, Strawberry. I’m not sure where it’s going to stop. Or if it can stop.”
“And that’s the beauty of Hammarskjold. Ever since I read that little book about his prayer—the Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray—I’ve ventured into a different spiritual path. And I hope it doesn’t end. How about you?”
“The path I’m on began long ago, but I see that the group needs your attention. Forward we go!”