As a journalist, I tend to see things in black & white. Grey areas are not an option.
That tendency is enhanced by my recovery from alcoholism. Reformed addicts often become more judgmental of others. Some call it being "holier than thou."
This combination often results in harsh, blunt language that — upon reflection — can inflict more harm than good and incite passions that replace reasoned debate. There are big differences between incite and insight. I’m a master at inciting. I’m not so good at using language that provides insight.
In recent weeks, I’ve had two tense confrontations with county officials over something I’ve written. Both officials later apologized and we sat down and ironed out our differences afterward.
Both confrontations stemmed from my use of a specific word or phrase in an article. In both cases, I could have said it differently. I’m not going to inflame the situation by repeating those words or phrases here. I’ve gone back and looked at what I said and changed the words. I will take a second look at other articles as well. When changes are made, a note will be added to the article.
Words, when used in an inflammatory way, can become blunt instruments. When that happens, the chances of reasonable discussion on an important issue are too often lost.
I’m a passionate man with strong beliefs, driven by emotion and concern. My wife often tells me that I too often care too much about things and lose perspective . As usual, she’s right.
I’ve pissed off a lot of people since coming back to Floyd County in 2004. I’ve stirred a lot of emotions and generated many debates.
While my intentions may have been good, my approach too often was not.
I can’t undo the past but I can learn from it. Three are better ways. With luck, and help from friends, I can and will find them. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop caring. It does mean, however, that I will take more care in my choice of words.