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One Voice Can Be Powerful

One Voice Can Be Powerful – Reflections on a Free Press

BY JACK LEVINE, Founder – 4Generations Institute – Partnership Director – GRAND Media

I have been a newspaper reader since I was 10.  My father was blind and his intense interest in current events led to my service as his reader.  You might say I was drafted to duty…I served as my Dad’s second set of eyes.

While my Dad listened to public radio every day and relied on Walter Cronkite to report the news on CBS-TV each evening, It was his hunger to know the thoughts of his favorite newspaper columnists that required me to struggle through their complex writings.

It was like climbing a high hill with rocks along the path.  Often, I stumbled over the words and had to spell out the letters to arrive at the destination.

The core meaning of these columns was well beyond my youthful comprehension, but I knew my work was appreciated when my father’s blind eyes would sparkle with understanding.  Often, he would subtly nod his head in agreement with a key point…or sometimes purse his lips in opposition.

These opinion columnists wielded great influence. The voices of both the writers and their readers were heard by political leaders, informing their role as policymakers.

As a refugee immigrant who fled Czarist Russia as a teenager, my Dad took his U.S. citizenship seriously. 

I felt that my singular role to transmit the columnists’ opinions for one blind man had some effect on the events of the day.  Fueled by his lifelong activist spirit, my father was a supporter of the Freedom Riders and other civil rights causes.

As a refugee immigrant who fled Czarist Russia as a teenager, my Dad took his U.S. citizenship seriously.  Of course, he voted in every election and implored others to follow his lead in all things relating to social justice advocacy.

He knew that while one voice can be powerful, he understood that multiplying into a chorus is all the more influential. His influence in my career as both a teacher and social policy advocate is undeniable.

The Importance of Responsible Journalism

People who dedicate themselves to finding truths in our complex society and telling those truths so others are informed and inspired to act appropriately deserve our sincere appreciation.

Just like we should honor our fighting forces and first responders, so, too, should we honor the courage and commitment to our freedoms exercised by editors, reporters and opinion columnists.

Over my 40-year career as an advocate, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of news and investigative reporters and editorial opinion writers.

Walter Cronkite as he announced the death of John F. Kennedy.

As individuals, I have found these men and women to be among the most intelligent, interesting and insightful people I know. While as in any field, there are some who fall short of the high standards we hope for, but they are rare exceptions.

If we learn any lesson from the attacks on the right of journalists to exercise their freedom of inquiry and obligation to report, let us remember that all evil is served by hiding in the shadows. Those who deride responsible media professionals act in destructive ways by damaging our right to know the facts which affect our daily lives.

Shining the light of truth on problems is always a first step in achieving fairness, justice, and the greater social good.

The Horror of the Holocaust

Recently CBS News/60 Minutes featured a stunning story Ben Ferencz – Nuremberg Prosecutor. Mr. Ferencz, now aged 99, personifies power and persuasion.

Chief prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz presents documents as evidence at the Einsatzgruppen Trial.—US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benjamin Ferencz

His meticulous research and skillful strategies as a young prosecuting attorney in the Nuremberg trials resulted in the conviction and punishment of scores of war criminals who perpetrated crimes against humanity.

Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, was the scene of systematic murder of 1.1 million captives solely because they were Jewish, Roma, disabled, homosexual or otherwise unfit to live in a fascist regime dominated by hateful ideology.

Among the dead were the frail aged and tens of thousands of young children…some were babies torn from their mother’s arms….the screaming and sorrowful weeping formed a chorus of pain. When the allied troops entered the concentration camps and paid eye-witness to the horror, their lives were forever changed.

These liberators, some of whom were themselves the children and grandchildren of immigrant refugees, gave testimony to the inhumanity of hatred and racism.

Please be aware that the crimes committed in World War II concentration camps, viciously ending the lives ofsome six million innocents during the period 1939 -1945, were legally authorized by the laws passed and enacted during the Third Reich’s reign of terror.

For additional information on that horrible chapter of history, please visit Holocaust History.

A Grandfather’s Priorities


Pop-Pop Jack, with wife, Charlotte, aka ChaCha, and grandchild, Julieanne

Now that I’m a grandfather, I’m all the more dedicated to paving a positive path for future generations. I’m sure many grandparents feel similar emotions when looking into the eyes of their newest family members.

As we proceed, there are now and will always be more challenges ahead…fear, selfishness, and rejection of change are ever-present.

Both pessimism and optimism are contagious…we catch them from others. Being negative begets negativity…being optimistic is likewise transmitted to others.  

The question we have to ask ourselves seems simple yet profound…Do we accept negativity as status quo or will we gather the forces of good, generosity and grace to overcome and advocate progress as a way of life?

Both pessimism and optimism are contagious…we catch them from others. Being negative begets negativity…being optimistic is likewise transmitted to others.

Every day, we have the choice to be either the most negative or most positive person in any environment.

My hope is we re-balance our attitudes so that our children learn from our best example…they occasionally do what we say, but invariably copy what we do!

As I think of all of the joys of grandparenthood, I’m all the more motivated to develop a strong and sustaining advocacy agenda which reflects the values we hold as sacred….justice, peace and equal opportunity to build a future worthy of our ideals.

Let me know if this advocacy philosophy resonates with you…and feel free to pass my words forward.

My best for a Sensational Summer.


After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida’s Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members…..also known as grandparents.

Jack’s expertise is in developing and delivering messages to the media, public officials, and a diverse network of health, education, human services and social justice advocates on the value of preventive investments in children, parent leadership, grandparent activism, and dignified services for elders.

Through public speaking, seminar and workshop leadership, community conversations and opinion columns, Jack shares information, provides inspiration and leverages advocate enthusiasm in the direction of public policy action.

Jack holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College.

He serves as Partnership Director for GRAND Media, is a member of Generations United and was a founding member of the Board of Voices for America’s Children.

Jack is the GRANDpartnership director for GRAND Magazine – to learn more click here.

Read more from Jack Levine  


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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