David Gergen, the media and the Language of our Culture

Originally, I was going to disagree with the statement made by David Gergen that we need to elevate the level of discourse in this country. Change happens. That’s a fact. Like Gergen said at the speech at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the advent of blogging has changed the way we write, speak and comment. I completely agree with his point that we cannot make personal attacks, resort to name-calling and all the “vitriol” that we see on media which fails to provide fair and balanced coverage. However, I originally dissented with the other part of his argument that it is bad thing that our language has sort of become degraded. People are more simple and fast-paced now. We like to receive our information in a lightweight form, so it follows the most basic language and structure would suffice. Then, I realized the argument went beyond that basic thought. Change comes from the bottom up. As everyone know acknowledges, Obama did so well in the election because of the grassroots campaign support he lived. The community organizing skills he developed in Chicago paid off for him the long run. Similarly, it should not be the media that leads an elevation in discourse. It must come from the bottom—especially from the schools were our children. The media must, I agree, maintain a high level of innovation, thought and integrity, and they must wait for the general public to catch up. If that means they suffer through poor ratings, so be it. Our nation’s enterprises have suffered and recovered from tough times before. Our teachers need to challenge more. Programs like Teach for America try to help improve struggling schools by implanting brilliant minds into them for two years. Out of 30,000 applicants, one figures the 4,000 the organization picks have to be well-qualified. That’s not enough, however. As Gergen mentioned, China, India and Brazil are taking the educational and technological lead. America is not a group of followers. We are strong individuals, who have the capability to come together as one group—one family—and enact great change. We saw that with Obama. It’s time we see it with our schools. After we are all set with good, affordable health care for life in a clean, green environment, education has to be the next time tackled. Green jobs and teaching jobs will play a part in improving the economy. Obama has made promises to enhance the salaries of teachers—and make the profession more desirable on paper—I believe that needs to happen if we want to start from the ground up and elevate the level of political discourse in the United States. Look at the definition of elevation itself: “the event of something being raised upward.” Upward means starting at low point and reaching high point. America is no where near its high point, but that does not mean it cannot get there.

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