Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Perspectives: Tim Russert

If you have a television you have to know that "Meet the Press" host and journalist, Tim Russert, died last week. If you did not hear about this event you missed a great opportunity to know someone who truly had a news perspective that was fair, challenging and all-encompassing with a passion for getting it right. Tim was a son of a garbage collector in Buffalo, NY, father to his own son, Luke, as well as a loving husband to his wife, Maureen. His rise from humble beginnings to the top of his field is a remarkable story. The following statement reflects the esteem with which his co-workers held him.

Statement from Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal:
“We are heartbroken at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. We have lost a beloved member of our NBC Universal family and the news world has lost one of its finest. The enormity of this loss cannot be overstated. More than a journalist, Tim was a remarkable family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, their son, Luke, and Tim’s entire extended family.”

As I listened to tribute after tribute on all television stations, regardless of their affiliation, it was clear that Tim was a giant among not simply the news media, but also among human beings in general. Chris Wallace, one of his Sunday talk show competitors said, “I couldn’t say this on air, but Tim was the best newsman in the business.”

Tim Russert seemed to see clearly and usually earlier than his fellow journalists. He knew the way things were. Yet he had the freshness and passion of youth, a child’s way of relating honestly with friends and competitors alike. Certainly, I realized, he cast a long shadow worthy of my attention and consideration.

As I thought about the tributes and my personal experience of listening to his programs, I realized the importance of perception. For many of us our perception of an event, person or situation, tends to feel right for us. We may get caught up on being right to the forsaking of good judgment. Many experiments in psychology classes have shown that every individual experiences an event in his or her own way, and the relating of those experiences seldom concur. The story of the blind men describing an elephant is a similar exercise in perception. This has always served as a support to me in my efforts to judge care-fully.

If you can imagine a polyhedron before you with each face a different color or with different scenes displayed on it, immediately it would be clear that depending on where you stood in observing it, you would see things that someone standing in another place would not see. Even if positioned so that each could see some faces the same, there would be other faces that the other could not see. Life is like that. We stand in our state of mind viewing our experiences from the position of our understanding, clarity and belief systems. What we see is not what others see. What we see is not right or wrong. It is simply what we see and know. As we understand this truth, we have a greater tolerance and understanding of how others see the same experience. It is this quality of life that makes us a more genuine person. It is this same quality that Tim Russert seemed to have. From his truth he challenged others to see their own truth and to get free of the clich├ęs they so often reverted to seeking to explain themselves.

Tim will be--is already--missed by all of us who knew him, even if only through watching Meet the Press or his political coverage. Strangely, I feel the loss of a close friend, an emptiness that for now cannot be filled. I can only imagine how his personal friends and co-workers must feel. This loss brings me again to the consideration of how I relate to my family and friends. It calls me again to the effort to be genuine, to see and know as clearly as I can what is going on in my life. It deepens my awareness for the need to love and reach out in love, not only to those close to me, but also to anyone whose path intersects or coincides with mine. I recommit myself to this effort in love and with love.

1 comment:

senfitness said...

I must be one of the few people that does not look at TV very much and do not know much about Tim Russert, however seeing the news on morning tv about his death does touch a sensitive nerve. As a clinical exercise specialist and AHA heartsaver First Aid, CPR and AED instructor I work with many people with and at risk of heart attacks. Learning the risk of heart attacks and knowing if the lifestyle of our choice may in fact be a risk factor is something try to educate people about. We do not know if he had symptoms, maybe he did, many people are in denial and are too embarrassed to see help or tell someone they do not feel the same. Next to learning the risk factors of a heart disease, learning the warning signs is evenly important. The presentation "Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs can be offered at any business or community organization, it only takes about an hour of participants time and a great asset to any workplace. It may not be helpful to you, but it may for the person standing next to you in the elevator, in the next cubicle, in the mail room, or cafetaria. Expect the unexpected, be prepared, heroes are not born they are educated in recognizing the warning sign, heroes learn CPR, heroes also know where the AED is located and hopw to use it. If your work place, your community organization, school, church or recreational facility does not have an AED, start a fundraiser, the life you save may be your own.
Jacqueline Sinke, FitnessAndFunction.com
AHA Heartsaver Instructor also providing the Act in Time to Heart Attack presentations.