Fifteen years is a long time

I began writing this column in January of 2003, more than fifteen and a half years ago. That means I have written somewhere around 780 columns or about 625,000 words. I haven’t kept an exact count.

I have written about local issues as well as state and national politics. I have written about farming and food, hunger, poverty and justice. I sometimes look for light hearted topics and even trivia. I have written about my faith and about my family. My friends, sisters, spouse, and children have more than once asked me if they will read about some incident in the newspaper. Sometimes I have disguised the guilty, but other times I’ve used their names.

It surprises me when someone stops to tell me that they really liked a particular column. Often I have to ask the reader about the subject. After all, how am I to remember which of the more than 780 pieces I wrote last week? I am pleased that my work is read. Those who stop me are always gracious, probably because I usually hear from people who agree with me. Occasionally, however, someone will take issue with my positions and will challenge me on my opinions. I especially appreciate those friends’ honesty. I thank them for taking the time and having the courage to confront me when they think I’m wrong. Sometimes their arguments alter my thinking. Other times we part still disagreeing. I hope we’re still friends. My favorite comments are the ones that begin, “I don’t always agree with you, but you make me think.”

I spend hours reading. I read what other thinkers write about on all sides of an argument. Most issues have more than two sides and every view has valid points. All solutions to problems have unintended consequences. Every truth has exceptions. Most fear has some basis in reality.

Writing a column in the local newspaper is not the same as writing anonymous comments in response to something on the internet. It takes no courage at all to write hate-filled, mean spirited, thoughtless comments full of obscenities and name calling while using a pseudonym and an avatar on some web site. This column has my name and my picture at the top. It is not anonymous. It takes courage to state what I think in a public way. It also takes courage to stop me at the grocery store and say, “I disagreed with what you said.” It takes even more courage to write a letter to the editor, sign your name and ask for the rebuttal to be published.

Fifteen years is a long time and nearly 800 columns is a lot of writing, a lot of research and more discipline than I have given many things in my life. Writing this column has improved my writing, sharpened my thinking, and expanded my horizons.

This is my last regular column. I am not ill nor is my spouse. We are both strong and healthy for people our age. I have not run out of opinions. Just ask my family. I would like more time to pursue some writing projects which will take more in-depth research and study. I am planning to work more in my business as a fiber artist. I really need to practice my cello and the garden needs weeding. Obviously, my list is far longer than the hours I have spent writing this weekly column. My retiring doesn’t mean I will never write anything for the “Republican” ever again. I plan to keep writing, just not on a weekly basis.

Thank you for reading what I write. If you want to read previous columns or see what I might be working on in the future, check out my blog:

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