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Friday, March 2, 2012

An Illuminating Thought

Text Box: Daytime talk shows   of today 
• Bonnie Hunt 
• Dr. Phil McGraw
• Ellen DeGeneres
• Martha Stewart
• Oprah Winfrey
• Rachael Ray 
• Regis & Kelly 
• The View 
• Tyra Banks
• Wendy Williams 
• Dr. Oz
• Maury Povich
• Jerry Springer
• The Doctors
• Steve Wilkos
Amanda Marsh, 2009
I have had a clear and illuminating insight as a result of watching television. For years, my friend Paul, who is a nonagenarian, has been in the habit of watching the Maury Povich or Jerry Springer Shows while he eats lunch. He never felt inclined to apologize or explain the habit. I was curious, I confess; I had never watched a show through - I came close today. I watched over three quarters of the Maury Povich show.  I learned a lot about the formula that is used on such a program.  The “personality” discloses a dysfunctional  relationship.  Today, the problem revolved around twin sisters who had both become pregnant by the same man.  Only one twin claimed this to be true.  The father was married to one of the twins and denied a physical relationship.  As the tension on the show mounted, the host accepted an envelope from an assistant.  -- After pausing for a carefully timed break, the host opened the envelope and disclosed that the twins, indeed, had been both engaged in a relationship with the same man.  The mother of the twins was led onstage.  She broke into an impassioned plea with her daughters to be more loving and to God to help them to be strong and forgiving.  The audience jeered, cheered and uttered heartfelt amens.
After that three-ring circus, imagine my surprise when the next case was presented; it was disclosed that the man who had been fully present for his wife and premature baby (born at 21 weeks at 1 pound, 9 ounces) discovered he was NOT the child’s father.  Both the husband and the wife were devastated. What surprised me most was that their emotional pain seemed genuine; it had the perfect pitch of honest feelings.  A small crack broke in my estimation of the use of television as a medium for exposing marital perfidy.
Late in the afternoon, I had fifteen minutes to put up my feet before getting my son at the ferry.  I collapsed in one corner of the sofa and aimed the remote at the television. Dr. Oz was giving tips on life.  How to sleep better, how to stop worrying, how to be grateful.  He did nothing particularly brilliant to my mind, but the audience soaked it up.  He suggested listing three things for which the audience felt grateful everyday.  He said this promotes an attitude of gratitude. Really?  That is all it took to get young and middle -aged women in the audience to nod adoringly?  
It was at that instant that I had a nearly instantaneous insight.  It was a life-changing realization of a basic truth.  I have it, right here in an envelope.
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