What we need to know

(Part 3 — 10PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

I went to the convention center early this morning because I wanted to get a good seat to hear Bill Moyers give his keynote address at the National Conference on Media Reform. As I sat there, this is the song that was playing in the background.

They say ev’rything can be replaced,

Yet ev’ry distance is not near.

So I remember ev’ry face

Of ev’ry man who put me here.

I see my light come shining

From the west unto the east.

Any day now, any day now,

I shall be released.

Fitting way to open the day, isn’t it?

I have stolen the title of Moyer’s speech as the title of this essay, “What we need to know.” And I really don’t have to write much about it, because its already up on youtube (love the internets, huh?). Its about 40 minutes.

Of course Moyers hit all the right notes about the danger we’re facing in this country and the problems with the corporate-owned media. But what I’ll remember most is the poetry…both of his words and those he quoted.

After the general opening remarks about the current state of our media, Moyers asks “What does it matter, why a media anyway?” He answers that question by quoting a powerful Native American story.

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee chief is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,

serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

And Moyers concludes:

Democracy is that way. The wolf that wins is the one we feed. And media provides the fodder.

And he ends the speech by quoting the lyrics from Arlo Guthrie’s song “Patriot’s Dream.”

Living now here but for fortune

Placed by fate’s mysterious schemes

Who’d believe that we’re the ones asked

To try to rekindle the patriot’s dreams

Arise sweet destiny, time runs short

All of your patience has heard their retort

Hear us now for alone we can’t seem

To try to rekindle the patriot’s dreams

Can you hear the words being whispered

All along the American stream

Tyrants freed the just are imprisoned

Try to rekindle the patriot’s dreams

Ah but perhaps too much is being asked of too few

You and your children with nothing to do

Hear us now for alone we can’t seem

To try to rekindle the patriot’s dreams



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  1. to be in the presence of such a great man.

  2. When he asked the audience to shake hands with those next to them, were you part of that?  Whose hands did you shake?

    Great stuff, keep it comin’!

    • Alma on June 8, 2008 at 02:38

    I love that man.  🙂

    One of the few that didn’t cave to the propaganda machine.

    I can’t listen to the clip now, but I’ll know where to find it when I can.

    Thanks NL for all the fine essays on the conference.  Its good to hear about it from a reliable source.  😉

    • Edger on June 8, 2008 at 03:03

    I’m jealous. I’ve been watching him for years and I’ve always though Bill Moyers is one of the most honest and one of the best journalists in the business. Not to mention quite likely one of the most intelligent, if not the most. He is one that history books will speak favorably of for a long long time, I think…

    Were you by any chance able to speak with him, or introduce yourself?

    • geomoo on June 8, 2008 at 05:30

    It’s easy for us to take for granted the power of the internet to inform.  I’ve never even met you, but through interaction in comments I have learned more about your reliability and insightfulness that I ever would have just from reading a newspaper column.  And here I get a firsthand, immediate account of a conference which interests me greatly.  And I can watch the speech you watched.  It’s amazing.

    Here’s hoping the internet effectively undermines the media control Moyers is warning about.

    I’ll have to watch the video later.

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