Lengthly Letters Meant to Clarify, Not Confuse

Thomas Edison once said, "5 percent of the people think, 10 percent of the people think they think, and 85 percent of the people would rather die than think!" I don't think Mr. Edison was correct with his numbers; else I would not spend my time writing letters to the editor to communicate with only 5 to 15 percent of the people.

I know that several people who read my letters think (or think they think) I use too many big words, make some of my sentences too long, fail to write in a way that everyone can understand what I'm saying, and try to make myself appear smarter than I really am. Some of these charges have jokingly been made to my face, while some have come to my attention through the grapevine. To date, no attacks or complaints have been publicly printed in writing for me to read.

To stay balanced, I would like to add that I have received many gracious compliments concerning things I have publicly written about, either directly or by word of mouth. I greatly appreciate the efforts a few have made to encourage me. I obviously enjoy writing or I wouldn't be doing it.

I remember going through grade school at Woodside Elementary (in the early 60's) and wondering why so many kids around me seemed to know what was going on, while I felt like I was almost always in the dark. I was a very slow reader, I had a bad memory, I was highly unmotivated and I was about as backwards as anyone in my classes.

As I've discussed before, I felt too insecure to speak up and ask the proper questions in order to know what was going on in most classroom studies, discussions and activities. (My learning skills didn't improve much through Junior High and Senior High.) Some will correctly speculate that I was lazy.

One subject in school did always interest me and that subject was mathematics. In math, I could see on paper why A leads to B. I loved the axioms, postulates and principles which stood as the foundations and premises for all the conclusions, proofs and answers. I learned to think logically and to think systematically because of my love of math.

In later years, I began to see that logic could also be used to arrive at conclusions in philosophy, economics, politics and theology. And it could be used to explain them.

I apply logic when I look at a sentence like the following: "I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

If one prefers, this lengthy sentence can be translated to simply mean "you misunderstood me." I plead guilty to favoring the wordy sentence, because I find it more challenging to analyze and logically comprehend. I rarely understand much of Shakespeare's writings, but the old boy always makes me think. I want to make people think!

In my last letter, I used the word "hyperbole", which simply means "exaggeration". Don't some people understand that we learn new words by seeing them used in the context of a sentence? I spent 42 years of my life "exaggerating". I intend to spend the remaining years "engaging in hyperbole", because I like the sound of it.

I don't write letters which are too simple, because such letters would not be able to refute the tangled and complicated conclusions too many people have been persuaded into accepting from false teachers. I don't write letters which are too complicated, because I'm not educated enough and my own mind is too simple to do that.

Today, I will confess to the readers that there are some highly educated people in this community who could do a much better job explaining the things I struggle to discuss on this opinion page, if they only had the will, felt the passion and took the time.

Looking back at my own past, I can see that I have lazily spent so much time in the dark and, now, I try to logically perceive and systematically unfold the truth; even if some of my sentences are too long and some of my words are too colossal, and the structural composition of my sentences is lousy, because I spent more time with my math than I did with my English.

So if my critics want to, give me an F! I've seen them before.

--Kenneth J. Wolf #53 (05/11/96)

Return to Captured Thoughts