Cultural Heroes in Difficult TimesThank you to those who told me that they missed my columns during the last few months. [Summer, 2012, ed.] We were getting into the last convulsions of some very bitter political campaigns. I felt strongly tempted to respond to the upwelling of political partisanship by fighting a battle of ideas in print. Lord, some of those letters to the editor got me steamed. Instead, I put a bumper sticker on my car that said: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.”
I almost got sucked into arguing with the undoubting faithful from the other side. That has variously been compared to “confronting a shadow in a knife fight,” “grabbing the ears of an angry dog” and “throwing pearls before swine.” Nothing good can come of it.
On the other hand, I believe we should persistently doubt our own assumptions, opinions and preconceived notions. It’s like I used to tell my boys, “It’s okay to talk to yourself and it’s even okay to argue with yourself, but when you start to lose those arguments, it’s time to start asking new questions.”