Lately it feels like we’re on a sinking ship. The motors are failing, the people are frantic, and all the while we’re taking on water. Yet, we still grab our buckets. We still dunk, lift, throw. Dunk, lift, throw. We bail as much water as we can, while we take it on twice as fast. I’m waiting. Frozen with fear at the weight of it all.
I just don’t understand the world these days.
Last night as I thumbed through my Twitter feed, the same question kept popping up. It murmured in the depths of my skull, trickling through my veins and eventually began to boom in my heart.
why. Why. WHY?
Why are all of these terrible things happening? The philosophers and the politicians and the scientists all have their theories. It’s nothing we will figure out today, much less in the next year. But I just want things to be better.
In the midst of all this, there is one victim that is continuously labeled as one of the perpetrators. The instigators. The thing making the world seem a little less bright than it seemed through the naive filter of our youth.
At the core, the assembly of letters collide into informatively arranged words. The purpose is genuine, despite every person looking for the hidden agenda. “If you read the piece backwards, you might find what you’re looking for…”
Journalism has genuine purpose because journalism is human.
Which seems to be the most-missed aspect of journalism: the human one.
In a society that is so quick to judge, there is no exception made towards journalists. Even the news spends time critiquing the news. Instead of focusing our attention at the root of the issues being presented to us, we work on mutilating the hand from which we feed.
Is every platform my favorite? Are there anchors, writers and editors that I like more than others? Of course. But just because I don’t like the Yankees doesn’t mean I don’t like baseball.
Despite how inhumane you think some of the articles and pieces you come across are, the keystrokes are made by hand. The hand of someone who, in the scheme of things, is not much different from yourself.
And yet we scapegoat them for the world’s problems. We ignore the fact that they are daring, rebellious and true to their craft, We ignore the fact that on the front lines, they’re armed with pens rather than guns, cameras instead of shields. We ignore the fact that the hands belong to bodies and the bodies have faces and the faces have names.
Journalism is human.
The transmission of information has stood the tests of time not because it is repetitively trendy, but because it is essential to our very existence. Cultivating stories is in our blood. From marks on walls to etchings of quills, we were born to be storytellers. Even in moments of silence, many of us find ourselves muttering. Some fixate their eyes to the pages of books. The presence of words is soothing to the soul because it makes us feel less alone.
As much as journalism connects us, it also can divide us. We form opinions and draw lines in the sand, steadfast in what we hold to be true. Some pieces are celebrated while others are burned. And again, the journalist begins to be backed into the same corner as before.
Except the pen will always be mightier than the sword.
The swift, irregular slashes of both can wreak havoc–motions acted upon first, and consequences remembered second. The careless strikes cut us deep whether as the body of a man or a body of a nation.
But unlike the sword, the pen can heal. With a new perspective, comes a new story and a new foundation of hope. The words come back to comfort us and remind us they were meant to connect us. They were meant to connect the dots of our society through a web of solidarity. They were meant to weave us into a more unified whole that is the human race.
So the challenge is this: in the next moment you find yourself engulfed in a text, or find your interest piqued by a segment, do the hard thing. The easy thing is to become enraged. The easy thing is to lash out. And although this makes the conversation lively, varied and fascinating, I challenge you to do the hard thing and just breathe. Stop in your tracks and think about the moment you are in. Whether you admit it or not, you were struck by a journalist. Sometimes we are struck with rage and sometimes we are struck in the heart, but we were affected all the same. We connected to the piece. We were connected to the person. We were connected.
And as we go to sleep, it still just doesn’t make sense. The pages of a leafed book can be macerated into a pulp and yet they can still be made anew. They can live on to tell a new story. While words can live on, journalists can’t. We can’t re-form their core and begin again, but we can capture the essence of their soul and their purpose and ensure they live on. A load of books can be quite the weight to bear, but there is no burden in carrying stories in your heart. There is no taxation of syntax on the breeze. The longevity and power of a story is priceless.
In times like these, we feel like we have lost our strength. We feel defeated and overcome with the heaviness of the word “why?” But like books on a shelf or letters on a page, we can stand straighter and remain tall by the simple act of leaning on each other. The human factor continues to be the glue that holds us all together.
Remember the strokes of the words came from hands, and the context was spoken from mouths, and the ingenuity was based in the mind, connected to the heart and soul of another. Another human. Another breathing creature who, on days like today, struggles to rise and wake just like you did. A human who struggles to understand the state of the world—struggles to breathe in the final pockets of air as the ship goes down.
Because just like us, journalists can die. Their words can outlive them. But journalists can die.
The motors are failing, the people are frantic, and all the while we’re taking on water. Yet, we still grab our buckets. We still dunk, lift, throw. Dunk, lift, throw. We bail as much water as we can, while we take it on twice as fast.
Dunk, lift, throw.
Dunk, lift, throw.
As the ship goes down, we bail as much water as we can. The fight gets tough but one factor wages on: the human one. We fight the fight for those who can’t. For those who were taken into the swells. It’s the humane thing to do.
Because journalism is human.