Jewish World Review May 17, 2004 / 26 Iyar, 5764
Yes, it's cool . . . to be nice!
I love to go to book parties. Maybe because now I have a book coming out in three weeks ("More Than Money," due out June 1 [Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.]), I've made a point of going to a lot more book parties.
Many of those parties celebrate authors whose books are angry. Angry on the right. Angry on the left. Rarely angry in the middle. Many are very good books, but like I said, they're very divisive books. Perhaps that's the idea. Divisiveness rates. Shouting sells. Clarity counts.
That's why I had to do a double-take when I attended Tim Russert's party for "Big Russ and Me." The tough-talking, in-your-face interrogator of "Meet the Press" was practically "Meet the Mush." His book is so kind, so warm-hearted and so decent, it makes you doubt the idea that in order to register with readers you have to shout at readers.
I don't care if you're a Russert fan or not. He seems pretty tough to everyone on his show. People can differ. But there's no way you can read his book, really an ode to his still thriving 80-something dad, and not come away feeling good. Maybe precisely because he wasn't a jerk, or mean, or condescending, or nasty, or any of the stuff that seems to come with journalism, Russert has a book that stands out.
And judging from initial sales, he has a pretty popular book. This gives me hope. Because, like Russert's, my book is not a nasty book. It too takes a look at an inspiring story, actually many inspiring stories. And just like Russert tries to bring us back to a time when ethics, decency and honor meant something, I try to bring us to a time when such things still mean something!
One of the things that bug me about the media today is the negative reporting. On the economy, it stinks. On the Iraq war, it's hopeless. On Catholic priests, they're all pedophiles. On corporate America, they're all crooks. And on and on and on.
Sometimes we make such sweeping generalities that we conclude all individuals with power abuse power, that all individuals held in high regard aren't to be valued in any regard.
You know, over a career of talking to thousands of CEOs and politicians, I've come to just the opposite conclusion. Most were good, decent men and women. Not the other way. Most of the priests I've known were kind and caring men. Not the other way. And most of the money managers I've encountered were truly looking out for their clients, not the other way.
Some say that makes me naive. I say just the opposite. What's naive and cruel is assuming the worst among our best. Believe me, there are crooks, scoundrels and abusers in every society. Yes, in our society. But just as we shouldn't penalize the sins of a few errant soldiers at an Iraqi prison, for the good work of the nearly 140,000 soldiers risking their lives far from that prison, we shouldn't say the same of virtually any profession.
It's called balance. It's something I write about. It's something Russert reminded me about. His dad is a throwback to a time when we valued things like decency and hard work. I think the people I write about are a throwback to his dad . . . people who've overcome much and done much because ethics matter.
There's the story of the CEO who lost his son on Sept. 11 but made it his mission to build a lasting legacy in his honor the father-son corporate team who saw their company burn to the ground but decided to pay their employees anyway. There are many other such stories. Uplifting stories. Kind stories. Inspiring stories. Stories that make you think, hey, maybe not all these corporate guys are bad guys. Maybe there's more to what's out there than Martha, Global Crossing, Enron or WorldCom.
You wouldn't know it looking at the press today, or seeing through all the anger today, but I swear, it's out there. Goodness thrives. If only you look. If only you read.
Russert's dad proves it. His generation lived it. And I pray my book proves that this generation continues to aspire to it. It's about more than headlines. And like I say, "More Than Money."
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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News
Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on
Business." He's the author of the forthcoming "More Than Money : True Stories of People Who Learned Life's Ultimate Lesson". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
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© 2003, Neil Cavuto