Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lessons To be Learned

There are times when there are just too many important topics, happening all at once, for the massive media machine of this country to focus its efforts on just a small few.

Today is one of those days, in case you couldn't tell.

To start with, in Chicago, the teachers union is striking for the first time in twenty-five years. Contrary to the tired anti-union propaganda, the Chicago teachers aren't primarily looking for more money. Both sides have already agreed to a raise. What the Chicago teachers want is simple.

They want to limit class size - a proven technique for improved learning, air conditioning, and a pay structure that isn't chained almost exclusively to standardized testing. In other words, Chicago's teachers want a new contract that will allow them to do their job of educating kids.

Meanwhile, the members of Congress have flooded back into Washington, DC like a pack of wild monkeys. No one is really expecting much, as lawmakers simply want to get in, handle the minimum of business, and get back home to keep campaigning for their jobs. Long and short, they'll grab their crayons, scribble out some short-term "solutions" - like an overdue Farm Bill and and a resolution to pay for the government's bills for the next six months - and they'll high-tail it out of town by next Thursday afternoon.

The fact that eleven years ago today, the entire world changed in a span of minutes, will likely only stop most of those legislators for a single moment of silence.

Today is 9/11/2012, eleven years after the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, on the Pentagon in DC, and on a plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania. It's also officially designated as National Day of Service and Remembrance, an action taken just a few years ago on a bipartisan vote in Congress. Remember when we had bipartisan votes of Congress...?

We're not sure if you remember where you were that day, what you were doing, or what you had planned on doing. We know that at least some of our current staff did what many members of the media, from all ideological corners, did on September 11, 2001.

When the planes hit, we rushed to our media jobs, to help calm and inform the people. We worked together with those who normally were our competition. The name of the company on our paychecks didn't matter nearly as much as making sure we were all publishing and broadcasting accurate news and information instantly. We called each other, sent e-mails, and helped communications between the public and the first responders in cities across America, as air travel was immediately grounded and parts of the nation effectively went into lockdown status.

It didn't matter what political party someone favored. It didn't matter what their religion was or who they loved. We were ALL Americans that day, before we were anything else. Like Americans in many industries, in the media, we ALL held each other to a higher standard that day - and virtually every media outlet stepped up.

As we all know, the first responders in New York and DC stepped forward more than any of us.

Now, it's eleven years later. Osama Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is nearly wiped out, and there's a new World Trade Center building nearly completed in the heart of New York City. Our media hasn't improved, though. Neither have our politics. We're still electing some of the worst idiots - and you're still paying attention to them in the media too.

There were a lot of lessons to come out of that day eleven years ago. It's too bad Americans don't yet seem to care enough as a nation to learn them.

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