There is no more exciting adventure than questioning those in power. It’s an act I’ve been able to enjoy in different countries, cities, and languages.
I’ve been able to interview small-town mayors, bigwig police chiefs, and was even awarded the chance to grill New Jersey Governor Chris Christie while he flirted with running for national office.
In what other line of work is examining the hierarchy of authority not only permissible but also encouraged?
It should be stated quite clearly, however, that journalism was not my first calling.
As my affinity for the oxford comma would suggest, I was a student dedicated to complicated analyses of political and economic consequence. My mind was fixated upon the guiding principles and philosophies which sprang from the rhetorical tropes developed in ancient democratic Greece and the Roman Republic.
My pleasure reading was piles of treatises by Cicero, Machiavelli, and Henry David Thoreau, all having revered the rule of law and respect for individual rights that their early republics had once championed but later dismissed.
Then I found myself in the ancient streets of Europe, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis the world has ever known. The rhetorical whims of unelected European bureaucrats attempted to soothe the public that confidence in the common currency was key, while all indications pointed to its inevitable demise. Where else could respect for individual rights, sovereignty, autonomy, and sound economic principles be found truly lacking but in this Union?
A political union of 27 nations that was harshly enacted and procured through national parliaments, always out of the hands of individual voters in individual countries.
After dedicated study of those subjects in Montréal and Vienna, I began to use the knowledge developed to turn to the study of current events.
Where else could I use everything I had learned but in the popular annotating of history in the present? Where else could I use the lessons of history to report on the actions, procedures, and mistakes of a growing power structure?
Thus I was led to journalism.
I make no secret my appreciation for principled judgment in the covering of stories. My energy is drawn toward informing a public which has been misled too far for too long.
Too often, the focus of the general populace has followed the whims of the gatekeepers who have had unprecedented control of the access to information.
These are very same virtues echoed by former leaders of the American nation, which I have attempted to keep dear to my mind and pen as I serve the cause of journalism:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.
-President Thomas Jefferson
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
-President David David Eisenhower
The job of the journalist is, as Robert Fisk so eloquently stated, is to be the ultimate “witness to history.”
And such will be the driving passion for my own career.
Now you know who I am.
Originally posted at Un Monde Libre