If you’ve read this blog for longer than 10 minutes then you know that I’ll repost news of anything Bill Moyers does or says. And this post is no different: on February 7, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation presented Bill and Judith Moyers the first Frank E. Taplin, Jr. Public Intellectual Award for "extraordinary contributions to public cultural, civic and intellectual life." My favorite tidbits of the remarks are as follows:
Critics said these programs taught no one how to bake bread
or build bridges. And they were right. Despite public television—not to mention
symphony orchestras, municipal libraries, art museums, and public
theaters—crime was still rampant, the divorce rate was soaring, corruption
flourished, legislatures remained stubbornly profligate, corporations cooked
their books, liberals were loose in the world doing the work of the devil, and
you still couldn’t get a good meal on the Metro to
Why persist, some members of Congress wanted to know, when there are so many
more urgent needs to be met and so many practical problems to be solved? I did
not have a tried-and-true answer for members of the committee. I could not hand
them a ledger showing that ideas have consequences. I chose instead to
tell them what they could have learned if they had been listening to the people
who appeared in our broadcasts.
They would have heard Vartan Gregorian, then head of the New
York Public Library, talk about how “in a big library, suddenly you feel humble.
The whole of humanity is in front of you. It gives you a sense of cosmic
relation, but at the same time a sense of isolation. You feel both pride and
insignificance. Here it is, the human endeavor, human aspiration, human agony,
human ecstasy, human bravura, human failures—all before you. And you look
around and say, ‘Oh, my God! I am not going to be able to know it all.’”
The whole thing is well worth the read, but as you know, I’d link to Moyers’ remarks about the menu at the local steakhouse.