400. # 400

Should Editor Dickerson see fit to print this, this will by my 400th Perspectives column to appear in the Albion News.  The idea of writing a column came to me back in 2004; I talked to then-editor Jean Kaup and she agreed to give me a try, saying the column would appear when space permitted.  The first one ran in October of that year.

Before beginning Perspectives I had written a lot of letters to newspapers, especially the Omaha World-Herald.  While I was growing up my father wrote letters to the World-Herald’s Voice from the Grandstand and my mother sometimes wrote features for their Sunday Magazine of the Midlands.  So writing to the World-Herald was in my DNA; they published my first letter when I was 12 years old.

Another reason I was eager to participate in the public dialog was because I came from a family of voracious readers.  My great aunt Ruby read to my brother Gregg and me on a daily basis, often for hours at a time while we played at her feet.  Our parents would then read to us before bed.

And being readers, my parents always had books, newspapers and magazines around the house.  As far back as I can remember there were copies of the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and Time or Newsweek lying around, and I was reading the World-Herald before going to school in the morning by the time I was in Jr. High.  My grandfather subscribed to National Geographic and Natural History magazines and I went through those each month, often before he did.

Reading these publications did a lot to shape my understanding of the world.  I never doubted that what I read was true – I was still too young to understand that truth is often in the eye of the believer.  But as I grew older I began to notice that a writer for the Natural History magazine had a very high opinion of himself and considered his say final.  And from there I began to notice that many publications had a “style” that favored certain ways of looking at the world.  I began to evaluate more and more of what I read – I had read enough by then to feel I had a decent understanding of things, and I began to disagree with pieces that ignored important aspects of relevant issues.

I thought all sides of issues should be examined, and so I began writing to newspapers, offering my “perspective” on things.  To me this was important – I grew up during the dark days of Communism and I understood there were millions of people in other countries who didn’t dare express their opinions.  I understood why the Founding Fathers protected freedom of speech – the suppression of dissent is a hallmark of totalitarianism – so I have always appreciated having the right to express my opinions.  And I came to believe early-on that just being free to speak wasn’t enough; I came to believe citizens with well-considered opinions have a responsibility to share them.  Our Founders bequeathed to us a free market for ideas – they understood that Democracy could only flourish if voters were allowed to consider multiple points of view.

So even though many of my views are in the minority around here, I appreciate the opportunity to share them.  I understand that writing columns doesn’t change many people’s views about issues, but I hope it does sometimes help people understand issues a little better.  And after all, what good is a free press if nobody bothers to share their own perspectives?

Add A Comment