All you need is love?

Love trumps hate. Sign of the time.

America as antonyms. Always emotional extremes these days.

Drama kings and queens. Insecure attention addicts of the Internet Age.

Love. Hate.

The Junkie in Chief from the Bully’s Pulpit of the White House last week: “I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love.”

The next day, at his 77-minute telethon with the press corps, he flipped the script: “I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.”

To which, a CNN reporter later prefaced a question with this:

“And just for the record, we don’t hate you. I don’t hate you.”

To which, the Id in Chief answered in part: “You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.”

Love. Hate.

***

During the years I was teaching journalism at a college in Toronto, more than one student, after receiving a bad mark or criticism of work on an assignment, asked: “Why do you hate me?”

My standard response was: “I don’t hate you. I don’t have such strong feelings about you one way or another.”

So, let me get one thing straight – I don’t hate Donald Trump. I don’t hate Republicans.

Do they hate me?

I turn to Aaron Sorkin, writing for Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in The Newsroom:

“I call myself a Republican because I am one.

“I believe in market solutions and common sense realities and the necessity to defend ourselves against a dangerous world and that’s about it.

“The problem is now I have to be homophobic.

“I have to count the number of times people go to church.

“I have to deny facts and think scientific research is a long con.

“I have to think poor people are getting a sweet ride.

“And I have to have such a stunning inferiority complex that I fear education and intellect – in the 21st century.

“But most of all, the biggest new requirement – really the only requirement – is that I have to hate Democrats.”

The haters are now running the whole shebang – the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court (soon), more than 30 governor’s mansions and two-thirds of the state legislatures.

The Stooge in Chief has put arsonists in charge of every government department.

And while the Democrats bitch and moan, the GOP is gleefully passing laws to plunder the planet and feed the rich.

***

The doctrine of hatred must be preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules and whines.

Emerson

***

The Sponge in Chief stole his slogan, Make America Great Again, from the Reagan campaign of 1980.

reagan-80

He stole his “America first” mantra from the right-wingers who didn’t think Hitler was such a bad guy and wanted to keep the U.S. out of the Second World War.

***

Nazis, I hate these guys.

– Indiana Jones

***

He stole his “law and order” dogma from the 1968 Nixon campaign.

What’s next? Another chant from the ’60s – “America, love it or leave it.”

Love.

***

All you need is love.

All you need is love.

All you need is love, love.

Love is all you need.

***

Sometime in the final years of my father’s life, he would end our phone conversations with, “Love you.”

I didn’t know where it came from. He’d never said it to me before. Neither had my mother.

It was shocking. But it became a routine closing for them, as it has become routine for me when talking with my kids.

Love.

Has the word been devalued?

It’s ubiquitous in places such as Facebook.

Click the heart when Like is not enough.

Write it out:

Love ya.

Love ya!

Love ya, bro.

Love ya, girl.

Not enough?

Share a public declaration of love in the infinite space of the Internet.

***

Scientists prove it really is a thin line between love and hate – 2008 headline in the Independent

***

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.

– 2 Samuel, 13:15, Amnon’s rape of his sister Tamar

 

love-hate

Love and hate.

Here’s Robert Mitchum as the evil preacher Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter:

“Ah, little lad, you’re staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand, left-hand? The story of good and evil?

“H-A-T-E!

“It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low.

“L-O-V-E!

“You see these fingers, dear hearts. These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man.

“The right hand, friends, the hand of love. Now watch, and I’ll show you the story of life.

“These fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin the other. Now watch ’em.

“Old brother left hand, left hand he’s a fighting, and it looks like love’s a goner.

“But wait a minute. Wait a minute!

“Hot dog, love’s a winning. Yessirree!

“It’s love that’s won, and old left hand hate is down for the count.”

Love trumps hate.

What will be the lead of your obituary?

I have decided to add a new service to my writing business – advance obits.

These stories will be shorter, less detailed and cost less than the life stories I offer, more in the wire service style.

This has always been an unspoken, unadvertised, benefit of my stories – the prepared obituary to be tucked in a file along with the last will and testament.

Since most of us don’t rate a proper newspaper obit, this would be an alternative to the boilerplate notices assembled by funeral directors, generally a bulleted resume and list of survivors.

Sadly, that was all I could find when my old colleague, Chisholm MacDonald, died recently. (I can’t even calculate Chisholm’s age when he died on January 9, since the funeral home obit did not give his date of birth, only the year.)

Chisholm was a wonderful writer, an interesting Down East character, who toiled for many years as a reporter and rewriteman for the Canadian Press. Yet not even CP deigned to run a proper obit.

Instead, we were left with an indistinct trail of comments posted on Facebook:

  • And the golden age of writing by typewriter. I sat beside him on the rewrite rim from time to time in my early CP days and wondered how he found those words. Inspirational.
  • I learned a lot from Chisholm MacDonald. He was very generous with his time when I was new to journalism.
  • He was a wonderful fellow and a terrific writer with a great sense of humour.
  • He had a great turn of phrase that brought any story to life.
  • When I worked on The Canadian Press Ontario Desk as a summer intern, Chisolm (misspelled) was so generous with his time and knowledge. I loved his writing and his jokes too. A very kind man.
  • A fine man. A wonderful reporter.
  • A humble man. Turned out some absolutely wonderful stuff and always seemed startled if anyone said so.

If there had been an obit that did justice to the man, written in advance and based on an interview with Chisholm, I suspect it would have been welcomed and published by any one of the understaffed newspapers in his native Maritimes.

And it definitely would be cherished by all those survivors, especially the grandkids, listed in that funeral home obit.

I have no idea what would be the lead and content of a proper obituary of Chisholm since, like the rest the rest of us, there is no publicly available storehouse of information, not even a Wikipedia page, from which to draw a picture of his life.

And I’m sure, like most of my fellow journalists, he would have shrugged off the need for someone else to write his story.

Yet you might consider the famous Lincoln quote: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

We all wonder what would be the lead of our obituary.

“When I die, if the word ‘thong’ appears in the first or second sentence of my obituary, I’ve screwed up,” Albert Brooks once said, recalling his scene wearing a red thong in the movie The In-Laws.

As someone who turned 70 recently, I recognize that once you reach a certain age, chances are your most notable accomplishments and life experiences are in the memory bank and ready to be shared.

And there is a more urgent need to uncover and preserve the most memorable moments, the most meaningful anecdotes, of the life of those in the early stages of dementia.

When I was a copyboy at the New York Times in the mid-1960s, I would often encounter Alden Whitman in the morgue, reading clip files.

Whitman was then the paper’s most celebrated obituary writer. He did advancers on the most prominent people of his time – presidents, popes, prime ministers, Nobel laureates and the like.

A 1966 Esquire profile of Whitman, written by Gay Talese, was under the headline: Mr. Bad News. Yet most of those Whitman interviewed appreciated he took the time to present their obituaries with such preparation and care.

In the Talese piece, Whitman even imagined the lead of his own obit:

Alden Whitman, a member of the New York Times staff who wrote obituary articles on many of the world’s notable personalities, died suddenly last night at his home, 600 West 116th Street, of a heart attack. He was fifty-two years old.

When he died at the age of 76, in 1990, the lead in the Times was more flattering:

Alden Whitman, a retired reporter for The New York Times who pioneered the use of interviews of notable people to personalize and energize their obituaries, died yesterday at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Before I started writing TV news at CBC in 1998, I was given a test. Among the questions was this: You’ve just died. But you’re not very important, so all you deserve is a 30-second copy story. Write your own obituary.

My answer:

It would have been nice if Ken Becker could have written this story.

But he can’t … because he’s dead.

He was one of the many writers who put words in the mouths of people like me.

And he did it well … made us sound more intelligent than this.

He worked for Newsworld in its formative years.

Then he disappeared suddenly … and mysteriously … at about the same time the CBC reported a 10-million-dollar shortfall it could not account for.

Ken Becker died today of boredom at his private island in the South Pacific.

He was 95.