IN THE AIRPORT LOUNGE on my last flight to Europe, I couldn't escape. We found the last two seats in the boarding section, and they faced the TV sports report. It was a boxing match. The black guy hit the white guy twice in the face, and the referee stopped the fight because the white guy's face was bleeding.
After the fight, the loser complained on TV: "This is no way to lose! Why did they stop the fight?" The anchorman summed things up: "Boxing: it's a wonderful sport!"
Forty inches of snow this year in Boston, and an Amtrak train hit an inflammable truck. Bill Clinton wants homosexuals in the Army, and the homosexuals want to be part of the St. Patrick's Day parade. The conservatives, though, held a protest march to stop them. We saw their placard on TV: "God hates Fags."
We sat there in the lounge, two saffron-dressed Hare Krsnas, on our way to Ireland. I didn't really want to watch the television, but it was hard to avoid, and I thought, "Anyway, I'll soon forget it."
But I didn't forget it. It stayed with me. It made me want to remind devotees turn off that set!
I certainly wouldn't want to be a child watching TV all day, or anyone watching the news straight from the high-tech video relay teams with their correspondents and talking faces in Washington, D.C. "This is June Meadows, from Washington." "This is Scrub Donuls, from Istanbul." You know how they come on, standing in the heat in a shirt unbuttoned at the neck in Africa, or standing with their breath coming in frosty puffs in Moscow. The reporters start rapping what the news is—"Premier Yeltsin's opponents are going for blood in the latest round of political infighting. The former Soviet Union … blah, blah, blah … only time will tell. This is Flip Furrows, in Moscow."
Then you're back to the anchor people in your own living room in Boston or New York or wherever you are. You're trapped and entertained, and the web of false news and commercials is wrapped around your head and the heads of your children like a cocoon around a silkworm.
Stay tuned to Friendly Freckles. Don't forget Death and the March of Time. And here's the latest weather. Then a jovial weatherman tells you what's going on with fronts and masses of clouds. Do you really want to know how the weather is two thousand miles away? But he has predicted everything; he appears to be in control; and so you sit there listening.
Stay tuned to "The Chamber of Horrors." "Winkles the Pet Chimpanzee, tonight at 9:00." Stay tuned to see the U.S. Army dropping bombs.
Hey, turn off that set. Turn it off.
But you can't turn it off. Once you've seen the soccer ball or the football being kicked up and down a field and the guys in blue scoring and then embracing in utmost serious affectionate camaraderie, once you've seen it, even if you go to Dingle Bay to a house that the wind buffets and where no one comes to bother you, those flickering images will return.
This is it. This is our problem. This is why we can't chant attentively. Because an Amtrak train smashed an inflammable truck and when the camera crew got there all they could film was the remains of the burning truck and the train was already gone, so they filmed any old Amtrak car moving in the snow and "This is Burt Billson, in Maryland."
Turn off that set.
Wish we could. We can't call someone in to fix the stuck switch in our heads. There's no plumber who can unclog our pipes. Frankly, there's no way to make the world void of inane images. That's the kind of place it is.
The only remedy is to turn to Krsna, to live in Krsna consciousness.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of more than two dozen books.