Our French President is on the front cover of TIME’s November 9, 2017 edition. The cover article wonders about his rôle as leader of France and perhaps of Europe. But it reflects also on what he thinks about Trump’s tweeting.
Journalists – as the word indicates – report the news of the day, “jour” in French. Before Marconi, we used to depend on them exclusively for our daily bread in the form of printed information about current affairs. Editorials and opinion-pieces provided, and still provide, initial analysis of recent events. Weeklies like TIME take the … time to examine them in greater depth. Today we have not only radio but 24/7 worldwide coverage of, and immediate reaction to, events in real time. We also have knee-jerk reactions in the form of early morning tweets from the White House.
Emmanuel Macron wisely counsels “time and distance” to his shoot-from-the-hip American counterpart, and himself prefers to take time to think, to verify, to analyse and to weigh possible repercussions in the scenario-thinking that begins with “What if . . . ?”.
I used to post reflections on this Blog less frequently than I have been doing recently. It’s been one post every two or three days, sometimes on consecutive days, or even two on the same day. Am I heading towards knee-jerk reaction, becoming a “journalist” in danger of morphing the Blog into a collection of oversized tweets ? I think not. (I mean I don’t think so – not that I do not think . . .).
Readers could not know that in fact it is the rare exception when I publish a post as an immediate reaction to an event or news-item, or to a statement I just read in a book or a revue. I usually have three or four posts up my sleeve, in a folder where they stew for a few days before I decide, after several re-readings and modifications, to publish (or discard) them. Right now I have to decide which of three already-written posts I should publish first – the one about death (what, again ?), homophobia or the Catholic Mass. I’ve decided they will all have to wait, because I want to post this one right now as a knee-jerk reaction to TIME’s cover-article. As you can see, it did not require an awful lot of reflection and is, to be kind, a bit thin. But some of us need to be reminded of the wisdom of delaying reaction, of not blurting out the first thing that comes into our head. Clichés abound, warning us of the dangers of reaction without reflection. Macron’s attitude is reassuring. Trump’s is downright scary.