Tunnel Vision: Our Narrow Focus on Social Issues

Do you know what a “rider” is when it comes to the lawmaking process?  Simply put, a rider is a provision that is attached to another bill or act that simply rides along into law based solely on the bill it is connected to.  It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with the bill itself.  It just has to be attached to it.

I bring this up because of something I learned over the weekend.  Apparently a provision was attached to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that essentially sells off Native American land to a foreign mining company.  And this is ancestral land, land where their people lived for generations upon generations.  This is land that has been a part of their culture for most likely centuries.  But not anymore.  Now it’s being sold off to some company so they can make some money.

And of course, the person instrumental for adding this provision to the bill is Senator John McCain, the same man who trumpeted the illegal immigration horn for so many years.  I just have to say, I find it painfully ironic that a man so against illegal immigration would so readily sell off land not just to a mining company, but a foreign mining company.  But I can’t say I’m all that surprised…

So why am I so upset by this?  Because no one even knows about it.  Hell, I didn’t even know about it until almost a week after the news broke.  Because that’s just how thing go.  Events like this get lost in the vast maelstrom of media sensationalism that is endemic to our culture.  And we all know what’s been dominating the airwaves for the past month.

Now, I’m not saying that the events in Ferguson Missouri are not worth talking about (I know that there will be someone out there who immediately assumes that’s what I’m saying), but there is a certain trend, especially in our media, that is beginning to really grind my gears.  Working at a television news station, it’s become more and more obvious to me that the news becomes more about one particular topic, the “flavor of the week”.  All news predominantly becomes about that one particular topic, and all others just fall by the wayside.  It happened with Ebola.  It happened with Isis.  And it’s happening with Ferguson.  These issues are something worth discussing (although the Ebola panic was just ridiculous), but they’re not the only issues out there.

And herein lies the problem.  We’ve all become so complacent in this idea that there is only one major issue we can tackle at a time.  We’ve become so attuned to this sensationalist hype we fed into it ourselves.  Look at the Ferguson incident.  People basically split up into two groups.  Those on the conservative end generally sided with the police.  Those on the liberal end generally sided with the protesters.  And neither side seemed willing to listen to the other.  I’m of the belief that when you hear an argument from two sides, that somewhere in the middle lies the true version of the events.  Both parties tend to skew their version of events in their favor, sometimes even unwittingly.  It’s a very human failing.

Take a look at the debate over Ferguson.  On the one hand, we have the people who basically see Michael Brown as a thug who got what he deserved.  On the other hand, we have people who see Officer Wilson as a murderous racist who was just looking for someone to shoot.  The lines are drawn, and now it seems like nobody can cross them.

But when you look at the things we know for sure, the story begins to get muddy.  We know for sure that Michael Brown robbed a convenience store.  There is surveillance footage of that incident.  And we know that afterwards, Officer Wilson had a confrontation with Michael Brown.  But that’s where the facts end, and conjecture begins.  We don’t truly know what happened during that confrontation, because the eyewitness accounts of the incident differ so significantly that it’s become near impossible to build an accurate timeline.  Instead, everyone seems to have settled with vigorously stomping their feet and giving in to their gut instincts instead of taking the time to truly examine the situation.  And because of that, the entire country has been swept up in this sensationalist fervor for so long that I doubt it even really matters what actually happened during that incident.  Everyone already has their story.

And it is because of all this that events like the selling of Native American land fall through the cracks.  I’m willing to bet that a few weeks from now, no one will even know that it happened, aside from the people directly involved.  Instead, we’ll have moved on to the next sensationalist issue, and all those people will lose their ancient homeland.  No one will bat an eye to it, because no one will care…

It’s despicable.  And it’s frustrating because I know that as one person, I cannot do anything to stop it.  They say that every voice helps, but I can’t help but see that as a naive outlook on things.  Sure, I can rant and rave about the unfairness of this provision to the NDAA all I want on this blog.  But will it make much of a difference in the end?  Experience tells me that it probably won’t.

And yet, here I am, writing this anyways.  Because I can’t just sit still and accept it.  Even though this post will likely have zero effect, I still decided to make my voice heard.  Because that’s what our country was supposed to be about right?  Freedom of speech?  Freedom of opinions?  It’s hard to see that these days, living in a culture where money rules everything and most of the power is controlled by a bunch of old men who are more concerned with their re-election prospects than actually shaping a meaningful future.  It’s frustrating, but it’s worse when you just let it all slide.

And who knows?  Maybe someday the things that I write could help shape the world.  I can always dream, can’t I?  It’s better than nothing.


Well thanks for reading this deadly serious post.  I had something I really needed to get off my chest, and I’ve found that writing is often the best way to do it.  Tune in next week for another post, and thanks again for taking the time to read my rant.  Have a wonderful week everybody.


Here is an article about the NDAA provision selling off Native American land.



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