I read the news today, oh boy…

Paul Andersen

Newspapers offer a daily glimpse of the world. Many of us wake up to newspapers over our first cup of coffee. The contents of both – caffeine and ink – color our morning and flavor our day.”Newspapers are the world’s mirrors,” said James Ellis, and it is often sobering to look into these mirrors. Rarely do newspapers effuse one with hope, joy or spiritual enrichment. More often, they hit a nerve that leaves you gaping with disbelief or fuming in apoplexy. Last Wednesday, Oct. 6, The Aspen Times provided a mirror that reflected an array of issues, each of which deserve thought and commentary.Page One: GO ARMY? This headline was accompanied by a picture of a smiling Army recruiter wooing students at Aspen High School. The Army sergeant said that three to five people from the Roaring Fork area join every month.The recruitment effort at Aspen High focused on “educating the kids on the benefits” of joining up. As the daily casualty toll from Iraq mounts, one hopes the sergeant also informed potential recruits of the liabilities – that they could die or lose limbs or lose friends.The big draw for most recruits is college tuition. This promise, however ennobling, makes our young soldiers mercenaries from an economic class that sadly doesn’t benefit from the Bush tax cut.Page Two: SKICO OPPOSING NEW COAL PLANT. This headline made me proud. The Aspen Skiing Co. is advocating renewable energy over the proposal for a new, sulfur-spewing, climate-changing, coal-burning power plant near Pueblo.”If we want the ski industry to stay viable for the next 100 or 200 years,” said Auden Schendler, the Skico’s director of environmental affairs, “we need to switch away from carbon fuels.”Imagine that – a company looking beyond the next fiscal quarter, a company concerned about long-term climate change, a company … and here’s where the model wavers … aggressively stoking the fire by building an enormous, new base village in Snowmass.Page Three: COMMISSIONERS TO HELP STRUGGLING HISTORICAL SOCIETY. A pledge of $200,000 from the Pitkin County commissioners to the beleaguered Aspen Historical Society amounted to a vital transfusion for a patient that has been on life support for five years.”If the county hadn’t ponied up,” reported the Times, “the historical society would likely have been forced to cease operations altogether.” If you grasp the value of history, you wonder how this can be.We live in an age where people don’t know the names of their grandparents and are ignorant of their ethnic origins. In the hype of the next great attraction, the past seems like an anchor being dragged recklessly toward the future.The loss of the Aspen Historical Society would be equivalent to demolishing the Wheeler Opera House, the Hotel Jerome, the Sardy House and every venerable artifact in Aspen. The historical society is a conduit to our collective identity. It affords us a rare sense of continuity, without which we would be poorer and less prepared for the future. It offers an interpretive exploration into who we are and where we live.If a newspaper is a mirror, then our historical record is the rearview mirror. It shows us where we have been so we can better understand where we are going.Paul Andersen thinks we need a lot more reflection. His column appears on Mondays.