Evidently, two rich men with television shows that people watched and were amused by have had a scuffle; a rich company was also involved in the scuffle. I have spent more time talking about, reading about, and hearing about the showdown between Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, and NBC than I have actually watching either Conan's show, and that I only saw clips of on YouTube. I'm not anti-Conan or anti-Jay, I'm just not watching television at 11:30 PM, period.
In regard to this, my friend, Matt Morrison tweeted,
If more of the 18-34 year olds on #teamconan on Twitter actually watched The Tonight Show, there would be no need for #teamconan. #irony.
Celebrities get more press than a lot of important things, like coverage of wars and politics and the economy and science, I'm used to that. The bit of gossip about O'Brien and Leno is notable, though: the buzz about who gets to have their show at 11:30 has a moral charge.
The story isn't just that things didn't work so well, ratings-wise, with Jay Leno at 10 and Conan O'Brien at 11:30, so NBC rescheduled them and that made them sad; the attitude that I see, on Facebook and Twitter and people's personal blogs is that Conan is a good person and Jay is a bad person and we must ally with Conan to stop Jay because he is bad. (NBC is automatically bad, because it is a corporation.) [Matt wrote a piece on the story that interrogates who failed where.]
An earthquake killed a lot of people in Haiti a couple of weeks ago, and it's caused a lot of trouble for the survivors. Everyone's talking about how we should give to relief agencies, you can txt HAITI to 90999 to give a $10 donation to the Red Cross's efforts there.
It shouldn't have taken an earthquake to make people want to help Haiti. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was so poor that many people were literally eating mud cakes to quell their hunger pangs. Why didn't we care then? [A friend's thoughts on this disingenuousness.]
I went to two protests about the genocide in Darfur. That was so 2006. One protest was in front of the White House, the other, in Central Park in New York City. At the protest in Central Park, there were tens of thousands of protestors. I bought a neat UN Peacekeepers' hat, to wear around, to tell people about how we should get the UN involved in stopping the genocide. Things are just about as bad now as they were when the crisis started, but I don't hear many people talking about it now. My hat is in a Rubbermaid tote in the basement.
In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis wrote something about how it's sensible to think that God exists because everyone has a moral sense, a conscience, and this has a divine root. Lots of other people have said this, too. For a lot of people, the idea of morality doesn't have anything to do with God; this worked well enough for the ancient Greeks, I suppose. I think it's common to believe that consciences give us meaningful information about an absolute sense of right and wrong.
Consciences keep people from lying and stealing and shunning, and they seem to tell us consistent-enough things when we're dealing with people in the flesh. I suppose that we could be like ibexes and bang our horns together if we were to have disputes, but we have rules that we all generally follow and so we can spend more time doing productive things, like reading rumors on blogs about the iPad. When it comes to big things, distant things, like gossip and genocides and world hunger and war and slavery, our consciences are like airport metal detectors that would let rifles through but would beep at the zipper in one's pants.
I hope that Lewis isn't too right about our consciences saying something about God or an absolute morality. Does God say that it's more important to help people in your neighborhood than people who are more needy but farther away? Does God say that you should do more to help people when catastrophes happen to them, but that it's less important to help when they're dealing with boring problems like bad drinking water? Does God say that young comedians are better people than older comedians?
I find it liberating to not expect my conscience to say anything about truth, it helps me lower my expectations of myself to the point where I can meet them. I used to think that I was a bad person because I feel more concern for people around me, and less passionate about the genocide in Darfur or world hunger or the wars in the Middle East.
My little sister, Secilee, wrote on the blog belonging to her rabbit, Oreo, about the earthquake in Haiti. She asked the readers of Oreo's blog to donate food and money to Haiti, and to pray for Haiti.
On one hand, my little sister is disingenuous for not paying attention to Haiti until the earthquake hit. On the other, my little sister has no reason to care about Haiti: she knows no Haitians, she doesn't watch any Disney Channel sitcoms set in Haiti, if I were to ask her if she's used any products from Haiti, I don't think she'd could name one. When she heard the news about the earthquake in Haiti, and how much people are suffering, she blogged about it; Mom tells me that Secilee wants to know what more that she can do about helping Haiti. I think that's beautiful.