All it takes is one joyous step to fix our broken system

So much anger.

So much venom.

So much disrespect.

And at the heart of it all are the American media outlets, which both feed from and generate all the bad blood between us. The axe-swinging comes from all sides, and let the chips fall where they may: Colbert, Hannity, New York Times, Breitbart, CNN, Fox, SNL, Glenn Beck…

And once the media’s chips have fallen and taken root, it’s futile to turn off the TV or trash the papers and magazines in hopes of escaping their suffocating tangle of barbed brambles. Because it’s there at the nephew’s graduation party, or the Mother’s Day get-together, or the long-awaited dinner party with those old school-chums. The poison has infected your cousin, your brother-in-law, your niece—maybe even your wife or husband.

They’ve all gone crazy with their anger, venom and disrespect, and they just won’t listen to reason.

And no appeal or complaint to the media will ever make it stop feeding the fire. Arguing with the press is like wrestling with a pig: You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Americans don’t have to be ablaze with anger, steeped in venom, or clothed in disrespect.

There are other nations that air their political and economic issues on TV, radio or newspapers, and whose citizens respond with joyous smiles and unanimous applause.

Nations like North Korea.

You’ve seen the images, haven’t you? The Supreme Leader speaks, and tens of thousands of rapturous faces smile, their hands clapping rapidly, conspicuously, held high in front of their faces so there can be no mistaking their firm assent and approval.

There is not a single frown to be seen, not a single poster of dissent, not a single smarmy T-shirt in the crowd.

Just those smiling, upraised faces, with those furiously clapping hands in front of them.

Faces filled with so much joy.

So much benevolence.

So much respect.

Yeah, let’s call it that: Joy. Benevolence. Respect.

And for a North Korean, the glow doesn’t stop at the rally. Long after the soldiers have high-kicked past like Rockettes marching to Radio City Music Hall, long after the missile caissons have lumbered over the horizon, every citizen will return home to a smiling house. There will be no brother-in-law, no niece, no wife or husband to harsh the mellow of the patriotic rally.

Everybody you meet in public or at home will think the same joyous, benevolent, respectful thoughts about the Supreme Leader and his government, because…well, there isn’t any other way to think, is there? Who has ever heard of any other way to think?

Oh, you may hear a rumor now and then about that strange son of your co-worker, that boy who started saying unthinkable things. But you will never meet the boy — or at least, not more than once.

And then maybe you won’t see your co-worker anymore, either.

And you won’t remind anybody that there was once such a boy and such a co-worker, because to do so would be to imply that there is some other way to think or to do things.

And that too would be unthinkable, because look at all the happiness around you in your unified, unbroken culture. And happiness is what everybody wants, isn’t it? Why would anybody be so foolish as to think unhappy, unpopular thoughts?

We could have that here in America. We really could. And all it would take is to eliminate disturbing, contradictory opinions in our media — on TV, on the radio, on the Internet or in print. You would never hear an angry, venomous or disrespectful word on any of them.

And —in time — you wouldn’t hear such words at the nephew’s graduation party, or the Mother’s Day get-together, or that long-awaited dinner party with your old school-chums. They would go silent.

Or they would go away.

And there would be no news source to tell you where or why they went.

That’s all it would take — the elimination of our frustrating free media.

In fact, that’s the only thing that could get the job done, because — literally — the only thing standing between you and the bliss of a North Korea-like society is our free and open media outlets, eager-eyed watchdogs as filled with anger, venom and disrespect as they may be.

Sometimes they bark at the wrong things. But sometimes they don’t.

Because somewhere buried deep within that anger, venom and disrespect… somewhere… somewhere… is the truth. It may take a frustrating lifetime of digging to find it, and you may never find it fully, and even if you do you may never convince any other American that you have found it more clearly than they have.

But this angry, dysfunctional, maddening American system is based on the belief that you and I are willing, capable and mature enough to find it. Or at least to keep trying.

It is that system that let me come to you today and tell you this truth.

Or — if you don’t believe what I’ve told you is the truth — that same system will let you come here tomorrow to tell me how wrong I am, even if you want to be angry, venomous and disrespectful about it.

Either way, it’s there somewhere in that swirling, maddening maelstrom we call the media: The truth.

And the truth — or at least the honest, vexing, unfettered quest for it — shall keep us free.

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