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Hawthorn Hill

January 24, 2013

Think before you speak, tweet

(Continued)

In most cases, some thoughtful editorial oversight would have precluded most from seeing the light of day. I suspect a random sampling of the millions of tweets that litter cyberspace daily would net an impressive catch of equally silly, utterly useless jabber.

My mother used to admonish me if I went overboard in some way by reminding me that moderation still reigned as the most reasonable way to approach things, whether eating or communicating. 

My generation was reminded often that it was best to keep your mouth shut if you had nothing nice to say. We were frequently reminded of the virtue of respectful silence. We were taught the perils of hurling sticks and stones at one another, often reminded that words were harmless. Over time my view of this well-intentioned observation has reversed itself. Language is an immensely powerful tool that is as capable of doing harm as it is of being deeply hurtful. Skin lacerations heal; the effects of lacerating words can scar a psyche indefinitely, if not forever. And all too often advocates of certain perspectives lash out at those who hold counter views as if one size or world view fit all.

Examples of uncivil discourse abound. For instance, it is considered by some to be an unforgivable act of appeasement to look for ways of approaching complex international conflicts without resorting to putting “boots on the ground.” Ironically, all too often the most insistent advocates of this approach have neither worn a pair of military boots nor experienced the horrors of combat firsthand. 

As viewed from some quarters, anyone favoring a system of national health care is either a socialist or even un-American. Several politicians have even gone so far as to suggest scores of members of Congress are communists. 

Newspapers abound with strident, epithet-laced, diatribes against individuals whose crime is differing with the writer’s ideological bent. All too often those with alternative perspectives of issues are described in the nastiest of ways. Ad hominem attacks have become the rule, not the exception.

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Hawthorn Hill
  • A farewell essay More years ago than I care to contemplate, I very sheepishly sent a column in fully expecting it would be rejected. Lo and behold, it appeared shortly thereafter and for almost twenty years now I have have written these bi-weekly columns, first under the heading of "The Timely Writer" for The Freemans Journal and, for the last several years as "Up on Hawthorn Hill" with the Cooperstown Crier.

    July 17, 2014

  • Writing in the age of ad hominisms This past week several readers of these columns have asked about my absence of late. The honest answer is that there are times when the well runs a bit dry and one’s enthusiasm for forcing words on to the page wanes.

    June 26, 2014

  • Robinson novels show grace, intelligence I have been reading the novels of Marilynne Robinson the past several weeks. She writes with such grace and intelligence that I find myself rereading sections several times over to savor their exquisite taste and, in some instances, to make sure I have grasped the meaning of what she has written.

    May 1, 2014

  • Giving aid to Cornell at my window For quite a few years now I have participated in Cornell's Project Feeder Watch.

    April 10, 2014

  • Birder admits he confuses non-birding world I often run into people who ask me what it is about watching and studying birds that birders like me find so appealing.

    March 20, 2014

  • Olympics spirit in need of repair It is time to rethink what the Olympics ought to be about.

    February 27, 2014

  • Late night drive stirs morning man It has been a long time since my last stint at the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. Several days ago the phone rang at 1 a.m. Never a good sign. Within minutes I was in the car heading for Boston. The sun and I got there at about the same time. Fortunately, the late night emergency that required the trip has resolved itself, all is well, and I was able to head back home the following day.

    February 13, 2014

  • Shopping is never fun, simple I am not a shopper. Quick ins and outs are what appeal to me. The sooner the ordeal is over the better.

    January 16, 2014

  • Wondering if Holidays are worth the stress

    January 2, 2014

  • Laziness must be overcome An essayist in a weekly magazine, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, characterizes the past year as exhibiting an uncommon penchant for laziness.

    December 19, 2013