The secret news

There’s always someone who says it better than I ever could. If they’re good, they make me want to remember it word for word. If they’re really good, they make me laugh.

George Carlin, the comedian who died this week, does both. In a Terry Gross interview recorded several years ago on NPR. Carlin read from (appropriately enough) the final section of his latest book, ‘When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?’ It’s called ‘The Secret News’ and Carlin, who started out as a radio announcer, said it goes like this:

Announcer (whispering, with news ticker sound in background):
Good Evening ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the secret news.
Shhhhh . . . .
Here’s the secret news:
All people are afraid.
No one knows what they’re doing.
Everything is getting worse.
Some people deserve to die.
Your money is worthless.
No one is properly dressed.
At least one of your children will disappoint you.
The system is rigged.
Your house will never be completely clean.
All teachers are incompetent.
There are people who really dislike you.
Nothing is as good as it seems.
Things don’t last.
No one is paying attention.
The country is dying.
God doesn’t care.
Shhhhh . . . .

Sometimes the most joyous and life-affirming messages are wrapped up in sarcasm and irony. This is why comedians like George Carlin are so welcome and so necessary in our lives. The lesson of the ‘secret news’ parable breaks the spell but also redeems us:

Nothing is as bad as it seems.

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