My wife thinks I should start blogging. Since most paths I’ve traveled with her lead to the inescapable conclusion that she is right I can only assume she is right about this as well but I don’t want to write a blog. Here’s why. It’s hard. It’s thankless. It’s coals to Newcastle.
Let’s start with the coals. The Bible tells us that wisdom stands in the middle of the street screaming its brains out. It’s like the kid in the grocery store who is stuck in that special screaming-kid-overdrive-trance; no power on earth can make him stop. You can get ticked off at mom for refusing to use the imaginary parental superpower of tantrum-stopping. You can ignore the situation and go about your business. You can resort to whatever coping mechanism works for you. But you can’t not know there’s a screaming kid.
We can’t not know that there is wisdom continually blocking our way. We can’t comfortably drift off to sleep because there’s that lunatic of wisdom screaming outside all night. We can’t cross the street without being accosted. We can’t drive down the street without swerving to avoid it or, God forbid, stopping to listen. Given that there are no traffic jams at the intersection where wisdom is doing its thing it follows that we’re all expert swervers.
In Solomon’s day there were no mass produced books, no newspapers, no radio, TV or internet. There were no public schools or universities. It was pretty much people telling each other stuff face to face. There was no guaranteed universal access to anything in a world in which most people lived in isolated groups and yet Solomon, aka “the wisest man ever” insisted that wisdom is obviously and undeniably right in front of us. Each person is obligated to listen, take it to heart and get wise.
Now you would think that mass communication would exponentially increase the availability of wisdom, right? Surprisingly, (at least to me), it actually does. In spite of my own personal allergies to various media I can’t pretend there aren’t tons of really useful, edifying websites, blogs, books, radio programs, etc. Sure the good stuff is mixed in with the counterfeits and crazy junk but when has that not been the case? The point is it’s there, it’s screaming its message loud and clear and you don’t even have to leave your cozy living room and walk out to the street. Do I really have any uniquely useful drops to add to that ocean? I think not.
I’m pretty sure that writing a blog would be an overwhelmingly thankless task. I’m old enough to remember the lunacy of things like common sense, pervasive decency and what has come to be termed the “Christian consensus.” (Funny how “consensus” is only holy writ when it’s invoked by condescending fear-mongering control freaks. But I digress.) I also remember when my country was unquestionably a Great Country, full of Great People pursuing Great Visions and improving the world by simply acknowledging God’s blessings and going about their business. Guess what I’ll be writing about? Am I in trouble yet? Should I wait the 2.03 nanoseconds it’ll take for every flaming straw man from cultural imperialism to Neolithic knuckle-dragging tunnel vision to zero in? Or worse; will anybody actually read the thing? The sweet spot is narrow indeed. Uncritical love from the choir could be nice, I guess but not as nice as well-reasoned support or creative disagreement. Which is the hallmark of online dialog, right? Let’s face it. Nobody wants to be set straight, so that’s off the table. People are really after another opportunity to root for the home team.
I don’t like fighting over dumb stuff and I don’t lead cheers. I can’t be bothered. You’re welcome.
Last but not least, writing is hard. I know because I do it all the time. When I’m not doing it I’m watching the afore-mentioned wife doing it. I once wrote an award winning short story. As any writer will be happy to tell you the minimum requirement for even the tiniest success is that you must first write about 80 gazillion words, most of which must be humiliatingly awful. After that first sale blows the doors off the publishing world you can settle back and write about 81 gazillion MORE words before anybody cares again. So I have, have had and will continue to have the fruit of my prodigious labor wandering from eye to eye and screen to screen, never to enter a sympathetic mind or heart. Imagine showing up for work every day, doing all you can to be more productive and conscientious than the next guy, taking classes and staying positive all in the hope that you might get noticed, hired and paid someday. Of course putting a series of thoughts together in an order that is comprehensible and engaging is hard. Doing the research to support opinions and conclusions can be labor intensive. But the REAL difficulty is persevering when there is no response. The whole point to writing the kind of essays that appear on blogs is to stimulate thought and provoke discussion. Hearing crickets after doing a bunch of hard work is harder than doing the hard work in the first place.
So there it is. Hard. Thankless. Redundant.
Who needs it?
Well, maybe YOU need it. Maybe our minds aren’t as homogeneous as the net makes them out to be. Maybe people huddle together by their ideological campfires because they just don’t know where else to go. It could be that broad agreement about the issues of the day does not require or imply uniformity of thought. Maybe the ocean isn’t full after all.
Not long ago our nineteen year old daughter wrote a paper on a topic that my wife and I have been all over for decades. Decades. We know all the arguments and their counters, all the major players, all the sociological impacts and implications.
Our daughter found insightful, useful points that never occurred to us or anybody we’ve read or listened to. They were obvious points, easily visible to her because of her unique perspective. I read her paper expecting to find that she had digested the venerable tribal knowledge and her thinking was straight, clear and in line with our own. I found all that but I also found the bonus of original thinking and new, unique application of bedrock principles. It was kind of cool.
I won’t pretend that my calcified old mind will suddenly regain the vitality of youth and explode with new revelation. I certainly won’t pretend that my particular collection of years includes extraordinary wisdom unmatched by lesser mortals. But I might know something you don’t. I might be wrong about some things that you are right about. And who knows? Maybe my wife is right yet again.