I have found recently that my mind has uncommonly been drifting from its usual state. Over the years I have been focused on looking outward. Somewhere I forgot to look inward, at myself.
A large part of column writing includes constructing critical comments about people, situations, political events, school systems, sports teams/players, etc. Lost in the outward criticism, though, is the idea that the person writing the column is, too, an imperfect person.
So, this column is not to point the flaws of the world or SLV as I see them. Rather, this column is to point out the flaws of this writer.
Like many columnists, I have not been immune to criticism Ė or downright name-calling Ė from the readers. My intelligence, maturity, pride have all been questioned in letters to the editor Ė some rightfully so. When this happens, I love to give the author of the letter a call or email to discuss his/her thoughts and mine. I find this important because it opens a line of communication that is otherwise closed. Sometimes I leave the conversation understanding the other personís thoughts; sometimes I leave the conversation more frustrated than before.
From these conversations, though, I learn that others have similarly strong opinions that have every right to be heard as mine. You see, sometimes as a writer I get into the mindset that my opinion is, for some reason, more important and more right than anyone elseís. This is simply not true. Everyone has a right to voice his or her opinions and ideas on any subject. Yet, because I have a picture and byline, sometimes I forget this simple fact.
But, itís not always ego. Sometimes the simple things remind me that the people and things I sometimes criticize need only to look to the writing to find my own mistakes. As I write, I type sentences as fast as they come into my mind. For me this means that I sometimes forget to type a word or misspell the word or use the wrong word. I catch these mistakes most of the time. But, sometimes I donít. Nothing is more embarrassing to me than to have a missing word or a blatantly misspelled word blemish a piece. But, it happens.
At the end of the day, I have to remember that I am but a flawed person writing about flawed people. When I read other columnists, mostly those from The Denver Post, Washington Times, or New York Times, I respect their opinions. But, often I wonder where the ego or authority comes from. Sometimes I wonder how they would like every part of their lives criticized or sensationalized in the newspapers. Then I thought about myself. I chose to freely criticize others and for reason. But, I forget that it would be every bit as fair, maybe more fair, for someone to publicly criticize me, my opinions, and/or my actions.
In the years that I have been so lucky to be able to voice my opinion, I donít know that I have ever been inwardly critical of myself, at least not publically. I remember studying about comedy and satire in a college course, and one of the best and most respected tools is inwardly critical humor.
I think that same idea should be applied to every public situation. If I can sit and criticize others, I should also take time to publicly reflect on my own faults and mistakes. After all, I am as likely as any other person to commit an imperfection.