Ćele kula, or Skull Tower in Niš, Serbia, is something I would make every person who ever wants to resurrect journalism have to visit and stay in as the reality of its wisdom seeps into their own thick skulls.
I would also make every person who fancies themselves as an "activist" go and live inside there for a year.
Those are real skulls of Serbs in there, and ask any Serb, and they can tell you its history.
But the long and the short of it that tower represents a Serbian defeat. The Serbs fought for their independence, and they lost.
Their oppressors of the Ottoman Empire did that. They built that tower as an example of what happens when you try to break from the rigs that keep you back.
Serbs did liberate themselves, and they go there as a pilgrimage.
They honour those who failed. They honour them for trying with every grain of their being. They do not see the tower as a symbol of failure, but as a symbol that they kept trying until they succeeded.
It became their symbol of independence.
After all, it is a tower made from Serbs. That's our DNA in those bricks. No one else's.
We did not tear down that tower. We could have torn it down, and hide from that reality.
We embraced it.
I know many people in the West do not understand Serbian logic. There was one very ignorant American professor who wrote a book whining that Serbs celebrate defeats.
No, we face our defeats. We do not deny at certain points in history, we lost and failed.
But those events compelled us to try again and again and again.
We deal with failure and memorialize them.
We don't spin it to make it look like a victory. Only cowards do that.
We honour people who gave their lives and didn't reach their goals.
Some were taken down by Nazis, like Stjepan Filipović.
Person #9 of people everyone should know.
And even with his last breath, that 26 year-old was not afraid.
Life isn't easy. It isn't fair. It is rarely ever kind.
But it is a challenge, a blessing, and a triumph.
Journalism's problems began when they were too afraid of their own darkness and failings. They began to deny they were wrong, always spinning some obnoxious partisan narrative fantasy why they were always great and glorious and Defenders of Mankind.
As my first name literally means "defender of mankind," I take exception to their self-styled and lofty ideas of what they are and have become.
They glorify Watergate, but do not deal with their industry's failures. When you try to whitewash your past and rewrite it as you take offence to being forced to face your group's failures, you no longer have a means to assess yourself.
You forget that bad things can happen and that your own ignorance made you vulnerable. You forget that no one owes you anything.
You don't wallow in failures. You don't make excuses for them, and you certainly do not try to spin them as victories.
No, you fell flat on your face.
Your opponent was bigger, stronger, smarter, and more able than you were. The End.
The curtain fell and that was the hand you were dealt.
But when a curtain falls, it means it will rise again.
So what are you going to do the next time? Pretend you didn't lose?
Will you pretend that you were perfect and the victors were without a redeeming quality?
Only if you want to keep on failing.
Because you will think the same, act the same, and if you didn't make mistakes, you will do the same thing, and your opponents will catch on, and thump you again.
Sooner or later, you ditch the script with the lousy partisan narrative fantasy that you keep stupidly falling for like a moron.
Yes, like a moron.
And you examine those mistakes, learn from them, as well as learning from your opponents because they (a) know what to do in order to win, you know, the same thing you want to do, and (b) their winning system isn't perfect, and you can find what you need to do to get back up and move forwards and upwards out of that tower.
Serbs have that tower as a reminder that there are people who will kill them and build towers with their skulls if they have a chance to get away with it.
But just because you were defeated, it doesn't mean you don't do something else to liberate yourself from the shackles of failure.
Like move and create a new path.
You may be down, but not out.
You know, for a very long time, despite everything, I thought people in journalism had some desire to succeed and resurrect the profession.
But it has gone on for so long that they like having an excuse to be failures. You can whine, blame others, and do nothing as you wear that halo, pretending how important you are.
There may be a handful who are still fighting and trying, but people like me who do keep going realize that the profession is dead, and it is dead because of a toxic mindset.
When you start thinking you are blameless and everyone owes you something, you are hiding from the truth that you need to change and that you cannot expect anyone else to save you.
When Serbs hit upon that solution, their fortunes began to change.
But they didn't tear down that tower. They kept is as it is and went there to see reality in all its forms as they can also see how far they came, even when the chips were down and it seemed like the whole world was against them...