December 02, 2004

Already Missing Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is retiring and sadly, we will no longer get to see him on his flagship program, NOW. Befitting this occasion, Larre over at the Left Coaster wrote a marvelous tribute for him.

Moyers is one of the truly great journalists of our day and our world will be so much poorer without his voice on our TVs. Moyers is a unique and fine human being - one who exemplifies so many of the characteristics that I respect. Combining a sharp intellect and intense curiosity with a genuine warmth and empathy, Moyers demostrates that one can be a remarkable and hardhitting journalist while still appreciating even those with whom he disagrees. If you've watched NOW, you have seen what a wonderful interviewer he is -- and through that program, I've gotten to see and hear people like Frank Luntz and Grover Norquist explain their positions without being outshouted or belittled. Moyers is genuinely interested in hearing different political viewpoints and treats his guests with a deep and sincere respect. Thus, we viewers can judge and weigh the arguments from both sides on their merits. In these days where most political shows use ridicule and shouting to enflame and distort the discourse, Moyers' program has been an oasis of sanity and honest dialogue.

Through the years, Moyers has added so much to our public space and in the exploration of ideas. His series with Joseph Campbell explored how religion and myth shape the spirituality of humans. And his Healing and the Mind covered some of the more fascinating experiments in healing and how it is changing medicine these days. And of course, as a passionately patriotic American, Moyers has produced some remarkable programs on our politics.

Perhaps it is his southern heritage or because he is an ordained minister, but Moyers is also exquisitely eloquent. Sometime it feels like I'm listening to a master poet when I hear his beautifully worded commentary -- as this commentary from last year shows:

BILL MOYERS: This headline I saw on the web — MARINES CROSS EUPHRATES — got me to thinking.

Do they know? Do they know, these young Marines, this elite American fighting force. Do they know Alexander the Great crossed the Euphrates, too, on his way to battle — and empire... With his engineers, architects, scientists and scribes, and an army 40,000 strong, their l3-foot spears gleaming in the sun.

The mighty Darius also crossed the Euphrates, and on these plains met Alexander in battle. Xenophon … Xerxes and Sennacherib...they crossed the it, too. The Sumerians crossed this river...the Akkadians, Hittites, and Amorites. The Semites, as well.

The Euphrates is the largest and longest river of western Asia. And where it meets its sister the Tigris became the fertile womb of Mesopotamia, birthplace of civilization. A thousand gods sprang forth here — and cities like Persepolis, Seleucia, Nineva, and Babylon. Somewhere between these rivers lay the Garden of Genesis.

Adam and Eve, exiled, crossed the Euphrates fleeing East of Eden. Writing first appeared here — myths and legends took hold. Gilgamesh, the Flood, the prophet Jonah, the Tower of Babel. Sargon, beloved of Ishtar, won 34 battles here, ruled twice as many cities, and vanquished his foes. Inana, goddess of love and war, slaked her thirst and passion here. Hammurabi proclaimed his Code…

And on these stones is all that remain of conquests, rebellions and battles — the violent death of rulers — prisoners of war disposed of by execution. For five thousand years the story repeats itself, the victory of one, the defeat of the other. Tribes and gods turn on each other. Omens fill the literature: "A powerful man will ascend the throne in a foreign city," it is written. "They will lock the city gates and there will be calamity in the city," it is written.

Even Ghengis Khan met his match trying to get here. The last word has always been written in the sand. Cities and states lie buried beneath it. The great figures who once held sway here Ashunrasirpal II, Tilglath-pileser III, Shamish-Adad V, King Nino, Queen Semiramis, King Shar-Kali-sharr. Suleyman the Magnificent, the Ottomons, the British, have all been carried away.

Five thousand years from now, who will be crossing the Euphrates? What will remain from our time? And what will be remembered?

Thank you, Bill Moyers for all your years of public service. And thank you for showing us what a truly great journalist and fine human being can do.

Posted by Mary at December 2, 2004 02:05 AM | Media | Technorati links |

Nice post, Mary. He was mighty as the Euphrates himself.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at December 5, 2004 02:18 AM