Last week, the New York Times reported on administration plans to cut popular domestic programs, including funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The move would save $500 million a year, about 0.016% of the federal budget.
Said Heritage Foundation economist and presidential advisor, Stephen Moore, “I think it’s an important endeavor to try to get rid of things that are unnecessary.”
Here are some of the things Mr. Moore considers unnecessary:
Ken Burns “Civil War”
Ken Burns “Jazz”
Sherlock Holmes (several versions)
The Midsomer Murders
Ken Burns “Baseball”
Shakespeare plays (many)
The PBS Newshour
The Antiques Roadshow
These are just a few of my favorite programs, past and present. Add yours to the list
Politicos periodically try to defund PBS. Remember the rumor that one of the Teletubbies was gay? But I think the real reason is apparent in this dialog from The Power of Myth series, one of the most popular television programs of all time. The conversations between mythologist, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer’s, which first aired in 1988, are as relevant as ever today:
BILL MOYERS: Would the hero with a thousand faces help us to answer that question, about how to change the system so that we are not serving it?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: I don’t think it would help you to change the system, but it would help you to live in the system as a human being.
BILL MOYERS: By doing what?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Well, like Luke Skywalker, not going over, but resisting its impersonal claims.
BILL MOYERS: But I can hear someone out there in the audience saying, “Well, that’s all well and good for the imagination of a George Lucas or for the scholarship of a Joseph Campbell, but that isn’t what happens in my life.”
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: You bet it does. If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life, and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off-center; he has aligned himself with a programmatic life, and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves. In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to commit myself to a system and to go with it, and to obey its requirements. My life has been that of a maverick; I would not submit.
BILL MOYERS: You really believe that the creative spirit ranges on its own out there, beyond the boundaries?
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes, I do.
By now it should be obvious – this year’s crop of would-be overlords, like all of their kind, want “a world…full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.” It’s up to ALL of us to deny them the pleasure!
We know the drill by now…when this budget item comes up, call and write elected representatives. Make #SaveBigBird go viral on twitter. It worked last time an administration tried to evict Big Bird, and it will work again!
Ken Burns, Downton Abbey, Sesame Street, and Joseph Campbell cut across party lines. They invite all of us to listen deeply to ourselves. They remind us not to let others drown out the still small voice of our souls.