The Best Of Times Or The Worst Of Times For Journalism?

January 14, 2015


As Charles Dickens wrote in the open of his seminal novel A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I sit in the warmth of my Ohio home awaiting the arrival of a new electric blanket from Amazon.  We returned from Paris less than two weeks ago.  Our youngest returned from her Paris study abroad the morning that we all witnessed the power, purpose and risk taking confronted by those who use the pen and buy ink by the barrel.

Our holidays were spent in Parisian bliss as we gorged on the most beautiful pastries, joined Parisians through the holidays, sat where Hemingway sat, visited the tomb of Napoleon, dove into the Impressionists, walked the Rue de Rossier (now under troops and machine gun watch) daily.  We were all together.  We were in Paris.  Our daughter speaks fluent French and (for an American girl) has a decent understanding of French history and culture.

And now.

We witness an unbelievable show of unity in what we know again to be a fractured world.  As a student of journalism and psychology, I raise my pen along with the Parisians.

Two hours up the road is a place called Columbus, Ohio. And there is madness in the streets.  This time though because a certain football team secured the national championship.  And their madness was broken up by tear gas.  Today graduates drink out of Ohio State Coffee mugs and smile.

Parisians, not known for their smiling, stand together…unified.

I was asked (from a psychological viewpoint) what it is that makes “teams” win.  Further, the questioner said that he would have never guessed that OSU had it this year.  Turns out, the dynamic that “won” the game may be quite similar to what connects our friends in France.

Stand together. Focus. Determination. Grit.

Success is generally about the basics.  Talent is important, yet only a fraction of the equation.  That thing called focus and grit may be the “X” quotient that “seals the deal.”  So while Parisians may not be about sports and championships, they have demonstrated handily an uber focus, defiance and commitment to common cause that belies that of most people I know.

For both “organizations” we witness a collective soul who has come together for good.  People seamlessly communicate with one another for that cause that matters to them most.

Dickens may well have been writing about today and about US.

Tis the season of hope and the winter of despair. Raising our pens and championship trophies as one.