To begin with, I do not believe everyone should write to the editor. However, disqualification has nothing to do with lack of higher education or whether or not one "feels" intelligent enough to put one's opinion in print "for all to pass judgment on." Never let a self-sustained feeling of inferiority silence your own personal contribution to that which has been called "the public dialogue."
I can relate to this obstacle, because I grew up with a feeling of inferiority (a lack of confidence). I remember on one particular occasion, as a sophomore in high school, I knew the answer to the teacher's question. After seeing that no one else seemed to have the faintest idea what the teacher was looking for, I raised my hand. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the answer out fast enough before my entire nervous system collapsed.
It still bothers me that I knew the answer but lacked the confidence to "verbally" express it. I was raised by loving parents who taught me that no one is any better than I am and, conversely, I am no better than anyone else is. That should have settled the matter, because I believed it then and I believe it now.
However, to this day, I am not a public speaker (my nervous system still collapses). Yet I read a lot and I think a lot. And I want to share with others some of the results of the configuration of ideas that formulate in my mind.
A local newspaper with a public forum is an ideal place for shy people (like me) to express their thoughts. But how do you know for sure if it is the right place to express your thoughts?
Are there some things you feel passionate about? If not, then don't bother writing a letter to the editor. If there are some things you have strong feelings about, but you don't publicly express yourself (verbally or in writing), then you may be withholding from the rest of us some pieces of the puzzle that by some chance of fate (or by design) have been entrusted to your care.
The way God designed reality (the time continuum), I will not have another opportunity to answer that question that I choked on (literally) in my past. But it did help my resolve in learning to express my thoughts in another mode.
If you do write a letter to our newspaper, don't attempt to submit a whole chapter from a book you are working on. You know what I mean! A few paragraphs may be all you require to make your point.
Don't worry that some people may disagree with your viewpoint. You may even disagree with it yourself, a year or two from now. That's what animates it and makes it all so exciting.
Don't worry about the Times being swamped with more letters than they can print at any one time. That would be their problem. They can always draw our letters at random from a fish bowl or print a special edition.
But if you write, be passionate, be confident and express to the best of your ability what you think at that point in time. If you write more than once, your letters will improve with practice, and we will all appreciate that.
---Kenneth J. Wolf #30 (03/26/94)
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