Why Do I Keep Writing?

Ever since I began writing this column, I have been repeatedly asked why I bother writing a "Liberal" column in such an overweeningly conservative area. I have always answered that I honestly believe that the level of debate in this country has decayed to the point that only one voice is allowed to speak and that, usually, is the loudest and nastiest voice of the moment. Now, whether the facts that I put forward agree with your opinions isn't the point. Rather, all I expect of my readers is to allow themselves to include those disagreeable facts into their opinion making process. It is truly amazing how quickly our opinions shift if we acknowledge the existence of other viewpoints.

That is why I keep writing Another Perspective for the Advocate every issue, not because I want to make you believe but, instead, that I want you to have an opportunity to contemplate issues without just the lies and half truths of the entertainers that pass themselves off as political commentators.

A story that a good friend, Mr. Michael Regan, passed along is a wonderfully concise explanation for the "why" of my column. It expresses beautifully for what purpose I spend so much of my time reading and researching and winnowing the facts that I discover down to about eight hundred words or so every other week. Here it is:

It is about a man, wandering along the beach. He sees someone moving quickly along the shore, picking things up and throwing them into the sea.

As the man approached the boy, he asked what the boy was doing. The boy replied that he was throwing starfish into the ocean. The man asked why. The boy replied that if he did not, the starfish would die in the tide pools from the heat of the afternoon sun. The man replied that there were thousands of starfish along the beach. "What difference could you make!"

The boy looked at the man, picked up a starfish and threw it into the ocean. "It made a difference to that one", he said.

Empowerment, often, is fueled by the feeling that one can make a difference , no matter how small and no matter how formidable the world appears. Once we lose sight of our own "power" to make a difference, then we just begin to walk by and let the starfish die. Worse still, we pretend we didn't see them in the first place.

This, then, is my reason for what I do. The country is currently ruled by politicians and an electorate who would prefer that we leave the starfish where we find them. Their doctrine is that if the starfish have the power to move to safety, they will. If they don't have that strength, then whatever happens is the starfish's own fault and, therefore, the politicians will tell you to feel no guilt (although they might claim to "feel their pain" as they passively watch them die).

I write this more to explain myself to those who have the ability to listen, rather than for those who can only condemn and try to shout louder than those with whom they disagree and spend their energies looking for ways to prove the dishonest contention that hatred of the needy and the love of wealth is God's will. I have tried to clarify for those who still have an open mind and not for those whose mind is closed to all but their fellow believers.

Gentle readers, if I were given but one wish it would be that all of us become that boy. It would be that all of us try to do whatever we are capable of, realizing that we probably won't make a huge difference in the larger world, but, maybe, a small difference in a little corner of that world. A beach is created one grain of sand at a time by the action of just the tenuous wind and water. We can change the spiteful climate of America one small, kind action at a time. We must, however, ignore the negative voices that will tell us that nothing can be done and ridicule those who endeavor as do-gooders, as if that should ever be considered an insult. We must ignore the leaders of this country and their unconscious followers who tell us that they have the answers and that patriotism demands that we stop interfering with their great plan.

Look around you, people! You can count on one hand the number of folks who truly wish their brothers and sisters well. If anyone is going to work for a world where all are treated equally it has to be you. It's not difficult to help another human being, it's usually just a step or two out of our way.

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