June 18, 2012

Nik Wallenda Inspires as ABC News Censors

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda fulfilled a life-long dream of crossing the Niagara Falls on a highwire. When he was six years old he visited the falls for the first time. He said, "That was when the vision came to me to walk across Niagara Falls."[1] Because the event was based upon a boarder crossing, from the US to Canada, it was ipso facto an international event. Amazingly, the Canadian customs officials asked Wallenda, “Do you have anything to declare?” in the way of goods after he had stepped off the wire.[2] What were they thinking? “Of course, yes, check my luggage and you’ll find everything!”

As a matter of fact, Wallenda did have something to declare, a life-giving message much more poignant than what the customs officials were interested in. Nik’s goal was to help inspire others to take on difficult challenges and to overcome fear in life. Nik said, “People ask why I would do this, but it goes back to the reason why I wanted to do it in the first place," he said. "It wasn't to get rich, it was to pursue a dream and to inspire people.”[3] Onlookers such as Ernest Groening came all the way from Switzerland to watch history in the making.

How did Nik maintain his sense of poise and determination through this feat? For those present at the Nigra Falls June 15th, it became obviously clear. While crossing the dramatic falls, Nik was coached by his father using a two-way wireless microphone. But journalists and others in the audience could also overhear Nik’s prayers and praise to God through various lines of communication.

Nik is fairly famous with six Guinness Book records, but the faith aspect of his life was apparently a little too much for ABC News to handle, so the company that was supposed to report on the event censored this obvious aspect out of their journalism. ABC’s news “live blog” offered a supposed transcript covering minute by minute news of the event but it did not mention the name Jesus once, the name that had been on Nik’s lips several times during this momentous occasion.[4] But many independent news companies and bloggers have covered this true aspect of the story. An Indian news company reported how “Along the way, he calmly prayed aloud.” And the secret of his success, "a lot of praying, that's for sure. But, you know, it's all about the concentration, the focus, and the training."[5]

Let’s face it, most of us could not walk 18 feet on a highwire, let alone 1,800 feet over a thundering, wind-swept, cold and misty Niagra Falls. We would be commenting on our nerves, not the beautiful view. It takes a special kind of combination of peace, poise, and courage to accomplish such a task. To offer some examples of the challenge, consider some quotes by Nik.

"There was no way to focus on the movement of the cable. If I looked down at the cable there was water moving everywhere. And if I looked up there was heavy mist blowing in front of my face. So it was a very unique, a weird sensation.”[6]

After passing the halfway mark, Wallenda described his fatigue, "I'm strained, I'm drained," he said. "This is so physical, not only mental but physical.”[7]

Independent journalists reported on Wallenda’s meditative prayer that helped sustain him, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ,” an allusion to 2 Corinthians 5:21.[8] At another point in his walk, he said, “Praise you, Father God. Praise you, Jesus!”[9] As the mists from the falls soaked him and blurred his vision, Wallenda was heard saying, "Thank you Jesus, my righteous king,”[10] And at another point, “You know I am so blessed to be in the position I am to be the first person in the world to be right here.”

The subject of inspiration is found frequently in Nik Wallenda’s quotes, “This is what dreams are made of, people. Pursue your dreams. Never give up. Mine might seem strange, but anybody that’s dealing with any battle – focus on that other side.”[11]

As Nik stated, he didn’t cross the Niagra Falls for money. How much was Nik Wallenda paid for the event? A report outlined how Wallenda’s contract with ABC Television didn't pay him enough to cover the total cost and so Nik offered his time to donors in return for financial gifts. Nik offered VIP dinners and personal wirewalking lessons. However, when show-day came, ABC was less than fair and objective in their reporting on the event. Despite the censorship by mainstream media, Christian journalists have noted how the name of God was glorified throughout the world by objective journalists covering the event.

It’s of note that another living and famous highwire performer, Philippe Petit, also has a form of spiritual faith. Petit is famous for sneaking out and crossing a highwire between the Twin Towers 8 times on August 7, 1974. “He maintains an office in the church where he can go to nurture his spirit and play with the architectural models of high wire walks he stores there; indeed, he considers the Church his spiritual home and the Reverend James Parks Morton, the Dean whose support for the arts first embraced Petit, his spiritual father.”[12]

However, it’s less likely that Petit would be censored for his views because he does not seem to have a particular affinity for the name of Jesus, as noted in previous interviews, "Yes, of course, I'm a spiritual person." I believe in the human spirit and that it takes a kind of complex chemistry to do something beautiful and with passion. But I don't know what your definition of spiritual is.”[13]

References

[1] NPR, Daredevil High-Wired For Success Over Niagara Falls,
http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=155165088
[2] Windsor Star,Wallenda completes 1,800-foot journey across Niagara Falls,  http://www.windsorstar.com/news/national/Wallenda+completes+foot+journey+across+Niagara+Falls/6791328/story.html
[3] Owen Sound Sun Times,  Wallenda asks public to foot the bill - Owen Sound Sun Times, http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3573853
[4] ABC News, Nik Wallenda’s Niagara Falls High-Wire Walk: Live Blog, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/nik-wallendas-niagara-falls-high-wire-walk-live-blog/
[5] NDTV, Nik Wallenda, first man to complete 1800-feet tightrope walk across Niagara Falls, http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/nik-wallenda-first-man-to-complete-1800-feet-tightrope-walk-across-niagara-falls-232156?ndtv_rhs
[6] http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/nik-wallenda-first-man-to-complete-1800-feet-tightrope-walk-across-niagara-falls-232156?ndtv_rhs
[7] Ibid.
[8] WND, JESUS 'OMITTED' FROM NIAGARA FALLS CROSSING, http://mobile.wnd.com/2012/06/jesus-omitted-from-niagara-falls-crossing/?cat_orig=faith
[9] Ibid.
[10] Sympatico, Nik Wallenda makes historic Niagara Falls walk, http://news.sympatico.ctv.ca/home/nik_wallenda_makes_historic_niagara_falls_walk/621d4a25
[11] WND, JESUS 'OMITTED' FROM NIAGARA FALLS CROSSING, http://mobile.wnd.com/2012/06/jesus-omitted-from-niagara-falls-crossing/?cat_orig=faith
[12] Ann Hutton, Philippe Petit: HIGH WIRE LIVE WIRE
http://annhutton.com/2009/05/philippe-petit/
[13] News Blaze, Tete-a-Tete with the Flying Frenchman Who Once Walked between the Twin Towers, http://newsblaze.com/story/20080728140319tsop.nb/topstory.html

Note: Thumb image from Best Thinking article on Wallenda's crossing.

Tags: Christian inspiration, media censorship, Nik Wallenda helps inspire the world, Christ gives courage and peace to Nik Wallenda, Nik Wallenda’s faith, Nik Wallenda’s testimony of Jesus Christ, How mainstream news censors the name of Jesus, Nik Wallenda shows how to overcome challenges with faith, Wallenda an example of courage, poise and determination, Nik Wallenda quotes on faith in Christ, Nik Wallenda quotes on prayer, ABC ignores Nik's prayers, How much was Nik Wallenda paid? Spelled not Nick Walenda

3 comments:

  1. Two things:
    1) Not covering an aspect of a story is not really the same thing as "censorship" -- it's a matter of focus.

    2) Amazingly, the Canadian customs officials asked Wallenda, “Do you have anything to declare?” in the way of goods after he had stepped off the wire.[2] What were they thinking?

    Probably the same thing that customs officials were thinking when they asked Robin Knox-Johnston for his port of departure, when he completed the world's first solo nonstop circumnavigation: "It's a joke we never get to make."

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1) Not covering an aspect of a story is not really the same thing as "censorship" -- it's a matter of focus.

    - It seems you hold to a somewhat narrow definition of censorship. The following website offers some broader definitions, for example, the following:

    "Censorship is a word of many meanings. In its broadest sense it refers to suppression of information, ideas, or artistic expression by anyone, whether government officials, church authorities, private pressure groups, or speakers, writers, and artists themselves. It may take place at any point in time, whether before an utterance occurs, prior to its widespread circulation, or by punishment of communicators after dissemination of their messages, so as to deter others from like expression. In its narrower, more legalistic sense, censorship means only the prevention by official government action of the circulation of messages already produced. Thus writers who "censor" themselves before putting words on paper, for fear of failing to sell their work, are not engaging in censorship in this narrower sense, nor are those who boycott sponsors of disliked television shows."

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/whodecides/definitions.html

    -imnotandrei, You mentioned that you believe ABC News' avoidance of the word Jesus was simply a matter of focus. However, at a certain point, why call it "news" if the point is supposedly to just create interesting text that avoids the principle aspects of the event?

    In a very rare act, a man named Nik Walenda crosses the Niagra Falls where mists blind him and winds sway him. ABC offers a transcript of a "Live Blog" of the event with minute by minute phrases from the man. However, one word that the man uses, the name of a person Nik sees as his main inspiration, is strangely left out of the transcript. Not only does Nik see Jesus as his main and underlying inspiration in life, he sees him as the reason for his courage and determination as well, as noted by the importance and frequency of prayer during the act of crossing Niagra Falls..

    As far as objective journalism is concerned, what specific aspect or aspects of the event do you believe were so important that an objective journalist would be validated in completely ignoring the obvious and unique source of courage, inspiration and determination that allowed Nik to attempt and complete the crossing of Niagra Falls on a tightrope, as outlined by Nik's own words during the event?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems you hold to a somewhat narrow definition of censorship.

      While yours is so broad it can include almost any sort of editing whatsoever; and the term is a loaded one, as most people think of a narrower, and more intentional, definition than the one you use.

      However, at a certain point, why call it "news" if the point is supposedly to just create interesting text that avoids the principle aspects of the event?

      Because different people see different principal aspects. It is the nature of the beast.

      As far as objective journalism is concerned, what specific aspect or aspects of the event do you believe were so important that an objective journalist would be validated in completely ignoring the obvious and unique source of courage, inspiration and determination that allowed Nik to attempt and complete the crossing of Niagra Falls on a tightrope, as outlined by Nik's own words during the event?

      I haven't looked into it deeply, so I can't say -- though certainly the fact that would draw most people's attention is the sheer magnificence of the accomplishment itself.

      I will also notice that you have the myth of the "objective" journalist in here. Remember that, for, say, a specialist journalist interested in tightrope walking, the technical aspects would be what would be important. For a journalist concerned with spiritual matters, those would be paramount.

      I don't know if you're familiar with reader-response criticism, but I think you're seeing some of its views playing out here; the message is no longer in the control of the messenger once it's been transmitted.

      Delete

You are welcome to post on-topic comments but, please, no uncivilized blog abuse or spamming. Thank you!