2013

6 March 2013: Column’s message needs some deciphering

Column’s message needs some deciphering

It’s been more than the usual fascination digesting feedback on recent columns, reflections that have ranged from “Huh?” to “You lost me,” so not so disparate reactions.  That’s good.  I’m learning to revel in un-clarity.

My intent, for example, in my piece about legacy wasn’t to “dis” President Obama, but that was the dominant interpretation by both my editor and readers.  My primary point was deeper, broader, and more universal: The compulsion to identify with one’s ego, believing or at least acting as if ego is what really ultimately matters.

I could interpret those interpretations as me not being precise, but then by so doing I would be missing another deeper point of that writing: openness for a variety of interpretations.

My political-social-economic thoughts fall on the liberal side, of course, having ascended from the conservative/libertarian miasma of my angst-filled youth.  With age comes wisdom as the maxim claims.

Now in my tenth year as Courant columnist, it seems I’ve sliced and diced every issue local to global, ranging topically from the political, economic, and social to the psychological and spiritual, so much so that it’s hard for anyone who has been a regular reader not to know where I stand.

Just in case however, a refresher: More controls on selling and ownership of guns?  By all means.  Same-sex marriage?  It’s about time.  A new pontiff?  What would be new about that?   Michael Coors’ brainy idea for the Eclipse snowboard park?  Let Republicans at the bottom of Fall River Rd. go toe to toe with Republicans at the top in rock-paper-scissors.  The upcoming Georgetown election?  Didn’t we just have one like yesterday?

I’m fond of quoting one-time New York Times columnist James Reston who in the midst of a strike that limited his column-writing plaintively asked, “If I’m not writing, how do I know what I am thinking?”

Exactly.  Some think out loud.  That’s a primary aspect of an extrovert.  I prefer identifying where I am on a topic through writing.  I refuse to argue with or talk over people.

When a student would cut me off, I would almost always wait until he/she was completely finished, continue to wait a few moments longer, and ask, “Are you finished?” Then after another momentary interlude, I would continue, “As I was saying…”

The spoken word, unless it’s recorded, is fleeting, gone.  Even then, spoken words too often are said without the speaker taking time to carefully weigh the impact of them.  What’s scary is that which comes out of some individuals’ mouths, even when they have ostensibly “thought it through” as it is in the case of the man recently arrested for allegedly harassing state representative Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora).  All I can ask him is “Seriously?  And you insist you’re fit to own and handle a gun responsibly?”

The ironic part is his last name is Sain, pronounced, I imagine, just like “sane.”  I have no reason to believe Mr. Sain is not sane, which gives credence to my point about us needing to be more concerned about guns being in the hands of the simply angry.  The vast majority of those suffering from mental illness are not violent.  Angry people with a legally-owned weapon can be dangerous.  I suppose that too is a Second Amendment right.

Over the years, I’ve learned my primary point(s) might be lost or non-decipherable, so I smile and say to myself, “Good,” which seems contradictory given how important it is for the writer, especially when composing what ought to be a persuasive piece, to have his/her words interpreted in the way he/she intends.

That it is not, though, the way humans behave: We filter and process stuff through personal lenses.  Rather than absorb and then reflect, we immediately kick into response/reply/retort mode.

As one reader and friend recently said, “We want to be understood rather than understand.”

Hence, my philosophy about writing has become like everything else: Do your best by offering food for thought and move on.

Although I could be wrong, I surmise you surmise there’s a point in all this.  There is, but assuredly it’s befuddled, vague, unclear, therefore forcing you to decipher it.

Those who prefer not being spoon-fed pabulum of thought, such as Fox viewers and Rush Limbaugh listeners, will get it.  For the rest, this is likely to be seen as life is: chaotic, rambling, and undefined, thus uncomfortable for anyone in need of order, black and white morality, and rigidity in thought amidst the swirling bedlam of being.

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