Letters to the Editor - Jan. 6

January 05, 2011

Turn off or tune out the furious pundits

To the editor:

According to the dictionary, a pundit is “one who gives opinions in an authoritative manner.” All kinds of fallible mortals — on TV, in the newspapers and on the Internet — are pundits. They put forth their opinions with great “authority” and confidence — talking endlessly, as though the fate of the world depended on their unceasing commentary. With so many pundits talking, it is a wonder that our country is still in trouble.

A big part of our current problem is that we have given power to the wise fools on TV, in the newspapers and on the Internet — whose impact, after all, is to keep us divided and distracted so that someone else’s selfish agenda can be implemented. As Shakespeare said in “Macbeth”: “It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing.” Like Socrates, I have searched all Athens for a wise man but have not been able to find one.

As the Irish poet William Butler Yeats said in his poem “The Second Coming”: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” The next time your favorite commentator starts foaming at the mouth, crying or pounding the table in disgust at the “delusions” of his fellow citizens, remember Yeats’ words. A door will open in your mind, and you will see something.

Fellow citizens, your freedom and my freedom are mutually dependent. If you lose your freedom, I lose mine. If I lose my freedom, you lose yours. We all fail together. Nobody succeeds selfishly. As Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” It is time to end the tyranny of ambitious pundits and think for ourselves and for each other’s freedom.

Sam Cuthbert

Washington County people work together

To the editor:

Question: What does the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at the Williamsport boat ramp and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus flash mob at Valley Mall have in common? Answer: Both are evidence that ours is a county that works together.

On the Saturday before Christmas 2010, a loosely organized “mob” of people gathered at Valley Mall to sing and enjoy Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. I stood there, a froggy alto, singing with some of the finest voices in the county. All were welcome and encouraged, young and old, regardless of skill. It was a true experience in fellowship. I wound up hugging friends not seen in years as well as new friends just met in the mob.

It was magnificent — tears in most eyes, children and adults learning through song and seeing the meaning of this season of faith, love, joy, peace.

On New Year’s Day 2011, I stood on the bank of the Potomac River at the Williamsport boat ramp with hundreds of people and watched folks jump into the very cold river. Each had donated money to the Humane Society of Washington County. Many went above and beyond to don costumes of one sort or another.

A young boy wearing a bathing suit and a Viking helmet with horns sat on his Dad’s shoulders. Grown-ups were dressed in a variety of manner to include superheroes, a green man and a Ravens football player. The atmosphere was downright festive. Again I wound up hugging friends not seen in years, as well as a few new friends. Truly hundreds of people worked together to support some of our dearest friends — pets.

It is written that pride goes before the fall, yet my heart is filled with pride in Washington County. Whether a flash mob singing, polar bear jumping, running for Jane, energizing a food drive or any number of activities, Washington County folks show up. They work together and make the unbelievable possible. Thanks!

Ruth Anne Callaham
Washington County Commissioner and director of Food Resources Inc. in Hagerstown

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