Public broadcasting has been enriching the lives of Americans and helping to keep the public informed for decades. Sesame Street, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird and THE COOKIE MONSTER taught me my earliest lessons growing up, and as an adult (sort of) NPR continues to keep me informed about this changing world. It’s my first source for news. It forces me to explore – to ask the next question. I crave the analytical, impartial and critical reporting that seems to go untouched by most privately-owned news sources.
Public broadcasting has survived challenges in the past but now faces its sternest test.
We are now in the “worst recession since the Great Depression,” and did I mention “these are tough economic times?” Both are ubiquitous, yet very real phrases that have fueled enduring national debate from the White House to Americans’ households in recent years. Corporate and consumer behaviors alike are being examined and evaluated. Throwing caution to the proverbial wind isn’t as appealing as it used to be. In fact, in most cases, risky, greedy behaviors are simply not options.
The principles of “doing without,” a phrase unfamiliar to most in the recent past, are now saturated throughout our daily lives.
Citizens are deciphering between “wants” and “needs.” And, hopefully, are asking: Do we really need that $40,000 car? Can we really afford that mortgage? Don’t these store bought jeans look just as good as the designer ones?
As we reevaluate our necessities, Congress attempts to do the same.
In February, the House of Representatives passed a bill to eliminate all $445 million in federal subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (including popular news stations such as NPR and PBS). The words deficit and national debt ring in lawmaker’s ears. Aimed with their own political agendas, they discern why certain cuts and earmarks are needed and why they are the plausible solutions to picking up the pieces of a crumbling economy.
Public broadcasting is now, once again, on the chopping block.
My own cerebral, yet visceral agenda bleeds through, and I think aloud, “How could this be?”
I feel like THE COOKIE MONSTER without his cookies. As I consider what I can do without, cookies simply aren’t up for negotiation. First, because of my undeniable sweet tooth. Second, but primarily, because of what the cookies represent. These cookies spark my intellectual curiosity, open my eyes to world events, personal struggles (as well as triumphs) that I never would have known otherwise and encourage me to join in the conversation.
In any economic climate, particularity a struggling one, combating ignorance with education is a necessity. As citizens, it’s our collective duty. Public broadcasting is in a unique position to provide precisely what every human craves (even as much as cookies): the ability to think for ourselves and be challenged.
It’s the people who devour these cookies, those who think outside the box, accept divergent viewpoints (yet, have the conviction to argue their own) and are respectful and sensitive to their world-wide neighbors who will bring us out of the current economic slump.
America is currently facing a challenge, as it has in its past, and realistically will in its future. Time and time again, it’s those choc-(chip)-o-holics that will move this country in a positive, thriving direction.