We spent a leisurely Saturday morning as teenagers stumbled from their beds. Earl had driven 13 hours to pick up Grace for Spring Break the day before. Earl made omelettes and the boys poured heaping bowls of sugary cereal. Our conversation meandered from the sad, the earthquake in Japan, to the trivial. In the background, as always, was the sound of NPR, National Public Radio.
I told Grace about the story I'd heard on NPR the week before of a flamingo in Siberia.
"Yeah, so these boys were ice fishing in Siberia and something fell from the sky. It was a pink flamingo," I told her.
She didn't believe it. They took it to the zoo. A year later in November, the exact same thing happened. A flamingo froze in the skies above Siberia and fell to the ground in the same village. NPR talked to a scientist and learned that birds can sometimes get turned around so they fly exactly 180 degrees in the opposite direction of where they should be migrating. And guess what, this village in Siberia was 180 degrees opposite of Iran where the flamingos who summer in Kazakhstan should have been headed. They get turned around and go 180 degrees opposite of where they should go.
The flamingo story was amazing, but even more amazing is the fact that I get to hear stories like this on NPR and relate them to my children. Sometimes they care; most of the time they don't.
When Grace was a baby, we lived in a small city in the middle of Florida. As I stayed home with an infant, nursing her, rocking her, singing to her, I could barely tune in the NPR station in Tampa, which helped me stay sane. I could listen to the station for brain stimulation while I sang "Hush little baby don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird" for the 100th time that day.
When the boys were born, we lived in Michigan and the Ann Arbor NPR station came in loud and clear. Each morning and each evening, the wisdom of the reporters boomed from the radio. Although I might be spending the day with infants and toddlers, I could carry on adult conversations and stay up to date on important issues.
I'm sure that when my children have moved out of the house, the sound of NPR morning edition wil give them a homesick feeling. The morning theme music should always remind them of me, even if now they switch channels in the car when we drive together.
Today, more than ever, we need a news organization that has the goal of finding and sharing the news with the American people without a secret agenda. So many "news" channels have become propaganda arms of either political party. People watch Fox news or MSNBC and actually think they are giving a straight news story rather than propaganda. But they aren't; both channels intend to persuade viewers that their points of view are correct. They leave out important points. They tell their side and ask leading questions.
NPR shows both sides. How do I know? Because many times, I disagree with the person being interviewed on NPR. Many times I agree.
So whatever happens, whether the government continues to help fund NPR, it needs to continue to operate, delving into the events of the day and giving the news in a straightforward manner.
Some days, NPR has been the one thing that gave me hope. Some days.."If that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring"...NPR saved my life.
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