Commonwealth Journal


June 29, 2009

We need the strength of others


Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.

— Jimmy Breslin


I don’t think I am as excited as Jimmy Breslin was but some months ago when the Commonwealth Journal began publishing my columns I told the editor that one of my purposes in writing was to try to create some room for conversation about issues that face citizens today. I apprehend that the climate for civil discussion is radioactive at best. The 24-hour news cycle, talk radio and the inclination of the media to create sensationalism has helped foster a type of political discourse that all but eliminates the possibility of compromise and reason.

Quite a number of you have spoken to me when we have met about my writing and I appreciate that quite a lot. It takes a certain amount of vanity to want to see one’s words in print for the world to share. But my purpose of generating conversation has been left largely unmet.

When I started I asked the paper to post an e-mail address in order for people to be able to respond to my articles for better or for worse. I expected to get quite a lot of feedback but that has not happened, much to my surprise and puzzlement.

In my life I find that I have some areas of disagreement with many of my friends but I am delighted to say that we remain friends. I think the reason is that we share so many things in common that we do agree on. I think that is chiefly true for the major part of our citizenry. So the question is why is the political climate so contentious? I think the answer is multi-faceted.

As people we are much more insular than we used to be. Yes, we are always among people but we are usually in an environment that is busy and not devoted to personal interaction. It used to be that people took what opportunities came their way to enjoy each others company. Church, picnics, fish fries, etc. Now we rush home, feed the kids or go to a soccer match and then put the kids to bed in time to catch Leno or Letterman. Next day, same thing. It is not that the pace is so much faster, it is how we budget our discretionary time.

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