I had the good fortune of being able to walk to a presidential campaign rally yesterday when Barack Obama stopped at the train station for a half-hour speech. Around 3,000 people attended. An Associated Press reporter filed a story from the event. It was the biggest thing to happen in Downingtown since I moved here.
When you can see something directly and not have it filtered through the news media, you get a very different view of it. The news media adds story lines and follows conflicts that don’t necessarily really exist. They focus on dramatic moments and suspense. They do this with everything they cover. I suppose they have to — it’s the only way to turn the news into a high-energy, entertaining experience.
But what gets lost in the story, conflict, drama, and suspense is the work. Most of what you hear about is most fundamentally about a lot of work to be done by a lot of people. If you read it in the news, it can seem that problems are solved by arguing, waiting, and winning (or losing). But really, problems are solved by work.
When Obama says he wants people to believe in America’s ability to solve problems and improve, he is really trying to get more people interested in the problems — interested enough that they might do some of the work that needs to be done and create part of the solution.
Ultimately, solving problems has more to do with work than with controversy, and this is a point that came across in Obama’s speech that you wouldn’t get by reading the political headlines at the end of the day.