Typical acts of malice (blog transplant)

I call this a blog transplant because I posted it years ago on a former blog of mine; it’s from July 12, 2011. While the story itself is old news, the messages laced throughout are still relevant and applicable broadly.

I recently read a blog by Kai Nagata, former journalist for Quebec’s city bureau. (I saw a re-tweet by Pamela Slim). I found his blog, “Why I quit my job,” to be refreshing, and filled with admirable conviction, laced with (presumed, on my part) brutal honesty about an industry (mainstream television news outlets) that he once respected, and can no longer thrive in/with.

This morning I discovered a tweet by Sandra Thomas, promoting her blog retort (in the Vancouver Courier), “Why I didn’t quit my job.” I wasn’t surprised to find her blog filled with bland yet abrasive remarks regarding Kai’s blog. She essentially sees him as being egotistical and idealistic; claiming to have dismissed his article once she noted his age (24 years old), but read on, ultimately, with no justification for her change of heart. I think it’s odd that she wrote,

It was after I got to the part about him being 24 years old that I tuned out, but later forced myself to finish all nine pages I printed off prior to writing this column.”

Why would one point out that they read an article prior to writing a column about it. Should that not be implicit?

I have to counter, or at least bring to question, some of Sandra’s comments.

The first is her inclination to defend her role as a journalist, based on one journalist leaving his industry. Why does she have to make this about her? Why did she feel inclined to pronounce her defense? Is she simply piggy-backing on the viral nature of kai’s blog, to gain followers or notoriety?

Secondly, it’s prosaic for one to squash the motivation/conviction/actions of another with their jaded delusion about why they are important or valid in their activity. Simply put, Sandra and Kai are driven by different motives. Kai demonstrated integrity in conveying his sentiment about leaving an enviable (in his industry) position. It seems that the environment he experienced at his job was oppressing, and left him feeling conflicted morally/ethically (that is my interpretation of his blog). He’s young and hungry and seemingly wants to do something that he can feel is a real contribution to “good” or to “improving” something. Is it really so outrageous to think that someone might have the unadulterated conviction to simply act on one’s deeply-rooted feelings/beliefs? Why must sandra minimize that? From my perspective, it is people like Sandra who poison the minds of the motivated youth to accept the status quo: mediocrity (at best).

Regarding Kai’s comment about his performance during his role as chief at Quebec’s city bureau,

“But I would say, humbly, that I didn’t just meet expectations – I excelled. In everything I was asked to do, I performed consistently at a level above my experience,”

Sandra retorted,

“To that I say, good for you. And good on your parents for raising a son with such a healthy ego.”

I have to interpret her comment as being snide. What is egotistical about acknowledging one’s strength’s? Why is it such a problem, in our society, to NOT hate oneself, or to have confidence, or to own what one is good at?

She provided a “fewer than 3000” word retort of why she didn’t quit her job,

“On a personal level I’m not 24, I have bills, responsibilities and a love of this community I can only afford to live in because of my paycheque. Speaking of community, I feel an even deeper sense of responsibility to readers who call, email and take the time to write letters, asking for help in everything from an injustice they’ve suffered to raising awareness about health issues, to fundraising for non-profits to proposed developments. I didn’t quit my job because every day I’m inspired by my co-workers who do the same and who work hard to tell the stories that make up this city, despite the fact we all work for corporate media.

I also didn’t quit my job because as a journalist I have an obligation to find and tell the truth no matter how much pressure there is, no matter how much people would rather read about Will and Kate, no matter the nasty letters to the editor and no matter what frustrations we face in a small newsroom with few resources.

Finally, I didn’t quit my job because as a journalist I refuse to give up, pack up my truck and drive away into the sunset.”

Here is my brief assessment of her “reasons” for working (which, for the record, no one asked her to defend):

  1. I must presume that Sandra is older than 24 – how much older? I have no idea, nor do I care. It’s outright ignorance that compels one to dispel the beliefs/actions of another, simply based on their age (and in this case, presumably younger age).
  2. She reduces her employment as a means to an end (needing to pay bills), and then offers that she is committed to her community and is inspired by her colleagues. I do not think that survival, loyalty and camaraderie need to be mutually exclusive, but I think it fair to note which she broadcast first.
  3. She portrays the image that she is a person of integrity, in that she is committed to reporting the truth regardless of political pressures to do otherwise. I hope she means this, and I can respect her if she does.
  4. I can also appreciate, prima facie, her conviction to not give up – perhaps she feels as though she’s fighting the good fight – a diamond in the rough or something. She extends that comment to say that she won’t run off into the sunset, which again, minimizes Kai’s actions, as though leaving an industry equals taking a permanent vacation – as though being in that industry, fighting the currents of monetarily driven compromises and sell-outs is more heroic than standing for something. in fairness, since I don’t know anything about Sandra, I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt and offer that perhaps both Sandra and Kai are fighting the same fight, but have chosen different weapons/tactics. Or, my more thoughtful assertion, perhaps Sandra is simply comfortable in her post, can’t imagine taking a risk such as the one Kai did, and is chastising his actions out of cowardice and malice.

To Sandra, I offer this … perhaps the adversary you are willing to fight is one Kai has deemed inept and simply, not worth fighting. I leave you with a quote from Atlas Shrugged; page 52, narrator speaking of Dagny Taggart:

“The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honor in challenging; it was ineptitude – a gray spread of cotton that seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in her way. She stood, disarmed, before the riddle of what made this possible. She could find no answer.”

And to “Dagny Taggart” – what makes this possible is people who believe that one has no choice. People who believe that accepting the status quo is expected or obligatory. It’s the people like Kai who offer to dissolve the thin spread of cotton, and all that sustains it.

Be the change

The power always has and still does lie with the people.

Inaction IS an action.

Voting isn’t our only power. Our power is in what we do, or don’t, every single day.

Every minute that we spend complaining is a minute we are not doing. Every moment we spend wondering why someone else doesn’t do X is a moment we’re not doing it either.

Do you perpetuate noise?

Noise and voting

Or do you inspire/lead change?

Doing and change

At least one philosophical difference between the two extremes is likely the manner in which one values oneself and others. Those who see themselves as less important than those in positions of authority might think their view or their ideas don’t matter. Surely the “others” are smarter than they; surely there’s a reason why their thoughts haven’t been put to action already by those with big titles.

The person who values oneself at least as equally as others knows that their very existence, all the things they do and don’t do, say or don’t, impacts the world around them, in ways small or big.

Which are you?