Image Credit: City of Philadelphia
the 50s and 60s, Philadelphia was beamed into living rooms around
the nation as teenagers learned the latest songs and dances on American
Bandstand. It is also the city that has been captured in movies such as Rocky and The Invincible. The opening of the The Invincible is gritty black in white, with Jim Croce's I Got a Name adding to the tenor.
It is a proud city, much like Detroit, having contributed much to the nation's progress and the standard of living we enjoy. It was blessed with waterfront and rivers, allowing development as a manufacturing powerhouse. But because of global competition, cities such as Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Philadelphia lost their foundations of middle-class jobs and families. (Remember the story was that manufacturing jobs would be replaced with higher-paying information worker jobs.) It is ironic that we will aid a city struck with a hurricane or tornado, but austerity if not shunning, is the response to economic storms.
I wonder if this national detachment to the plight of down-on-their-luck cities and people is in part due to atomization of culture. By atomization, I mean the detachment of the individual from churches, families, and life-long employers. Instead of being part of something, individuals have become ions, facing by themselves anything that comes.
Philadelphia Borrows so its Schools Open on Time troubles me on several levels. First, the economic stress of the past decade is bringing down the former manufacturing cities. Like the boxer Rocky, they can only take so many hits. And we have many cities that are in similar distress. Second, this nation has always recognized its success was founded on the availability and quality of public education. I acknowledge there are problems with it, but let's don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Third, as much as I grieve and empathize with storm victims, I have the same response for the pensioners and residents of these cities. Somehow, we must manufacture a nation where tomorrow is eagerly anticipated as better than today.