I’m enough a creature of habit to “need” to get the news. I am not sated by the TV news here nor from the two or three major dailies the paper man sells from his bicycle. What is of interest to most Salvadoreños means little or nothing to me. Even the girl who reads it when my family gathers ’round the tube two or three times a day doesn’t keep me focused.
It’s like living in Los Angeles. The dullards in L.A. County get to watch: 1. weather, particularly any dampness that forms on the streets, 2. murders, of which the region has plenty to go around, and 3. the gay news about Hollywood in which I never had interest.
Our news comes from the capital, San Salvador. Their focus is on: 1. weather, particularly the six-months of flooding, drownings, and damage, 2. murders, from which the gangs provide the cameras with ample corpses and gore, and 3. human disinterest tales of people with missing limbs, rare diseases, birth defects, and advanced age who need financial aid. Oprah would have a picnic here.
There is no news about Iraq or Afghanistan. No Salvadoran ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates. There are no mosques or plans for Islamic cultural centers. We have no illegal immigrants depressing our economy. We do that on our own. No one has challenged President Funes’ legitimacy to serve due to questions regarding his place of birth. Only recently has the balance of power in the presidential palace and chamber of deputies shifted since the end of the civil war in 1992 and it wasn’t because the voters wanted to clean house. Salvadorans know that one politician is the same as the next once he or she gets comfortable in San Salvador. Our national airline, Taca, has had no crashes or terrorist threats. We have no complaints about the security checks at Comalapa International Airport. The only significant death we’ve had this year wasn’t of a film star, rock star, or aged politician but of a beloved elephant at our zoo. I think that gives you an idea of how exciting a country El Salvador is. Even the death and dismemberment of a well-known soccer star in neighboring Guatemala for “fooling around with a woman” didn’t break into the headlines here.
So I have the option of watching the Channel 4 news and coming away with no opinion, no stress, no insecurity, no desire to write to a leader or the editor, or I can use the resources available to me on this computer and read about job losses, corporate disasters, political treachery, terrorists old and young, foreign and native born, soldiers dying, churches exploding and Copts being persecuted, Ramallah being groomed as a ‘temporary’ Palestinian capital, Pakistani and Irani women facing cruel executions for not being men and having power, an ineffective president beginning to sink in the tide of sewage begun by his predecessor that he’s been unable to build a levee against, parents killing their kids, and Bob Feller possibly losing his fast ball.
The things I worried and wondered about, argued for or against, loved or hated don’t mean a thing to me any more. Maybe it’s my age and the realization that my battles have been won or lost and I’m out of the war. Maybe I’m just getting used to a completely different way of life having moved from a country with world power and significance to a little corner of Central America with fewer people than New York City or all of New Jersey and almost no influence on world events. You know, I think I like it better this way.