materialism

Failure of foresight? New York Times looks at globalization and the immigration backlash

Failure of foresight? New York Times looks at globalization and the immigration backlash

Funny thing about us humans. We persist in believing that we can have our cake and eat it, too -- notwithstanding the proof positive of an empty plate.

In its own complicated way, this also holds true for immigration, of course. (Have I mentioned previously that everything is connected to everything else and that this reality often involves religion? Repeatedly, actually.)

We delight in globalization’s immediate benefits -- cheaper foreign-made garments, instant international communications, exotic vacations that a generation ago middle-class travelers could only dream about, the transfer of capital across international borders to a degree previously impossible and more.

Yet we persist in ignoring that globalization is also a lure for those in the world’s poorest and most violent nations to seek a better life in the world’s wealthier and safer nations. They also want the good life that our globalized news and entertainment media have dangled before them.

We forget, or simply ignore, all this because as a specie we tend to prefer short-term material gains; quite frankly, the glitter blinds us. That is, until the day comes when we belatedly wake up and notice -- and then default into push-back mode -- that these globalized immigrants have different religious, social and political outlooks; that they speak foreign languages and have different skin colors, all of which are the stuff of massive demographic change.

This brings me to a recent New York Times business section piece that combined extensive graphics with solid reporting, a fast-growing online journalism trend.

The piece sought to explain the spreading trans-Atlantic backlash against the massive global movement of people over the last decades.

Here’s how The Times’  lede put the problem. This is long, but essential:

Immigration is reshaping societies around the globe. Barriers erected by wealthier nations have been unable to keep out those from the global South -- typically poor, and often desperate -- who come searching for work and a better life.

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Trump, the Paris climate change accord and the accepted Kellerism that shaped the coverage

Trump, the Paris climate change accord and the accepted Kellerism that shaped the coverage

Some of you undoubtedly will consider this post naive.

If that includes you, please take a moment to bust my bubble in the comments section below. Hopefully, you'll do that only after you read this post to its end.

Nonetheless, I think it's worth acknowledging an unspoken Kellerism, one I'm taking the liberty of labeling the Ultimate Kellerism.

(Kellerism is a GetReligion term referring to the newsroom attitude that a particular issue has been sufficiently settled -- to the satisfaction of a newsroom's leaders -- so as to negate the need for dissenting voices to receive fair and accurate coverage.)

Moreover, I believe it's worth pointing out now because of its behind-the-scenes role in the uproar over President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change accord.

The Kellerism in question?

That would be the widely, if not near universally, shared human belief that the pursuit of ever more material wealth trumps -- sorry, but the word seems appropriate -- all other human motivations, and should be the prime determinate when making political calculations. This is a doctrine so universally accepted that it is guiding both the politicos and the journalists (on left and right) involved in this story.

Or, to put it another way, that jobs and personal finances are what people care about above all else. It's corollary is that this is so because material security is the quickest way to achieve the sense of inner security that is the deepest of human cravings, and perhaps the most difficult to satisfy. (More on this below.)

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A Christmas season think piece: Why pass on the beloved lie that is Santa Claus?

A Christmas season think piece: Why pass on the beloved lie that is Santa Claus?

It happens almost every year during the week before Christmas.

Someone sends an email to a list of friends (usually veteran parents and grandparents), or posts an item on Facebook that raises this old question: Is anyone else getting uncomfortable with the whole Santa drama?

There is always a second question that flows naturally out of that: What is the purpose of this elaborate and dramatic lie? What are we trying to teach our children by doing this and what do we say to them once the charade is up? After all, in families with many children the old ones have to help sustain the lie for the little folks.

A confession from me: My wife and I, even before converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, decided -- primarily based on my work in mass-media studies, with a lot of reading about advertising -- to skip Santa Claus and tell our children that St. Nicholas of Myra -- as in the 4th-century bishop -- was a real person. The also noted that people have long honored him on his feast day (Dec. 6th on the Gregorian calendar) with gift-giving traditions that eventually, in culture after culture, morphed into something else. We told them not to play that game with other kids, but not to mock them or, well, tell them the truth, either. The key: In our faith, saints are real.

Journalists, if this subject interests you -- especially the secular, materialistic side of this equation -- then you should read and file an essay at The Atlantic by Megan Garber that ran with the loaded headline:

Spoiler: Santa Claus and the Invention of Childhood
How St. Nick went from “beloved icon” to “beloved lie”

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As on a darkling plain - Prozac and France

The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.

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Spot the ghost in China's material girls

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug meI think they’re O.K. If they don’t give me proper credit I just walk away

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Daily Beast: Bridezillas vs. old-fashioned ties that bind

Yes, I am about to praise an article published by The Daily Beast.

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