In Jan. 8 IssueBy John Thompson, ColumnistRussell County News-Register
A New Year has certainly brought many changes to the country, the county, the newspaper, and yours truly. In considering what to write about this week it occurred to me that I will now be reaching a new audience who may not have read my column before. That will be exciting, both in the sense of reaching new people with ideas and viewpoints they may have never considered, but also leaves me a little apprehensive, as I believe that the new potential readership may be a little more on the conservative side… and some ardently so.
Two years now I've been writing this column. From the talk on the street I understand I've gained quite a following; a prospect that is very gratifying. In talking with many I've determined that some of the most dedicated readers are also most often in disagreement with my often very progressive liberal take, and that is quite okay. As the saying goes, how interesting would life be if we all agreed?
There are two aspects to the feedback I get that I'd like to share. One is that those who disagree with my opinions and my political and life philosophy have been almost singularly respectful. In my correspondence with other people throughout the country (and world actually, through Facebook), they tend to marvel that in the veritable bastion of conservatism that is the southeast, I am not run out on a rail. I often, and perhaps erroneously, attribute this to the fact that I do not play the political party game. I will argue with, and even deride political ideology that I disagree with, but what I will not do is pretend that the Democrat Party is "my" party, without fault.
The other aspect to the feedback I receive is that my column "makes you think." Personally, I can't think of a higher praise for a weekly opinion column in a small town newspaper. When someone tells me they almost always disagree but that my column makes them think… well, I think to myself there's hope for them yet…. A little light joshin' there. If you're new to the column you'll soon realize sarcasm is but one free service I offer; cynicism is another; as is analogy, metaphor, anecdote and I' m sure some other words I barely comprehend.
If I've not exactly made it clear just yet, the point of this particular column is to introduce myself to a new audience. So maybe I should say just a little about who I am, and then I'd like to tell you briefly about a few columns I've written over the past two years.
Born in Ohio, my formative years developed rat'cheer in Russell County. I served four years in the Army, at which time I got to travel quite extensively. Established readers have read a couple of harrowing experiences stuck in a train station in Zurich, Switzerland… or travelling the back street barrios of Juarez, Mexico at night by myself.
While stationed in Nuremburg, Germany, I had the good fortune to meet a woman of the world. She loved to travel and have new experiences.
Being more mature in age and wisdom, she guided me all over Europe and to its best museums. Sure beat what many of my comrades in arms were doing, which is to stay drunk in the barracks.
After the military, I spent 15 years in Columbia, South Carolina. I absolutely hated it and I'd never recommend more than 15 years of living there. While there, I had an epiphany after working in a factory that was the modern equivalent of slavery. The epiphany was that I'd rather sleep in the streets and eat out of garbage cans before subjecting myself to that sort of abuse again. That realization, and (at least at that time) complete certitude in that belief freed me like probably nothing else had or has. Nothing is quite as freeing as seeing the absolute bottom and accepting it rather than to be owned.
A little of my credentials; I've got three and one-half years toward a mechanical engineering degree. I was a Behavioral Science Specialist in the military. I took two professionally administered I.Q. tests and found out I was qualified to become a member of the exclusive Mensa organization (members must have an I.Q. in the top two percent), and while I mostly adhere to Groucho Marx's policy of not belonging to any club which would have someone like him as a member, to this organization an exception was made. I've been to 17 countries, including the U.S. I'm single with no children.
The columns I've written over the past couple of years have been diverse, but often carry a theme that I've been preaching for well over a decade; the growing inequality in our nation's wealth and resources. And it seems it's literally been only months that real notice is beginning to be taken in how that is detrimental to us all. Of course there’s nothing like realizing your pension is gone, or your job moved overseas to realize that maybe that guy on Wall Street didn't "earn" a billion dollars in a single year, but is benefiting from a societal construct skewed in the favor of financial institutions rather than manufacturing or other REAL wealth producers.
As mentioned, occasionally I'll write about my personal experiences, but most often the subject will run around propaganda (and how I believe we may be more propagandized by corporate and wealth interests than Soviet Russia was by the state), criticism of social constructs, war and economics, among others. I will not shy away from criticizing either national institutions or our national foreign policy.
I believe that, regardless of current acceptance, not all opinions are created equal. I promise to offer opinion with a healthy dose of facts and dedication to critical thinking to back up any opinion I may offer. As such, you can expect that I will blast those national figures that hold the limelight who offer nothing but ignorance and image…. Which reminds me, beating up on Glenn Beck is a personal hobby.
Welcome new readers, and thank you to everyone who reads, and considers what I have to say.
I look forward and will take seriously my job to bring you something both entertaining and intelligent to read every week.