Imagine your assignment is to produce three opinion columns each week on issues of your choice. Just lay your message out there under your name for the world to evaluate.
There's no limit on subject matter within the boundaries of honesty and good taste. You can write about other people, justice and injustice, spiritual matters, environmental matters, politics, sports, recreation, yourself, or animals we love.
I'm frequently asked where I find ideas to create the more than 3,100 columns published over 20 years.
Many have told me how much they'd enjoy writing a column. That's when I smile and ask what they'd like to write about. Subjects that appeal to them? Only topics they prefer?
Generally they will cite three ideas at most. I continue smiling and say great. That covers your first week. What about the next 51? Even doughnut bakers can't stop at a dozen.
When I began, the assignment was to produce four columns each appearing on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The initial instruction from supportive publisher Walter Hussman back in 2000 was simple enough: Produce a "must read" column.
My first couple of years found me often searching for topics that primarily interested me. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that approach, I learned over time to instead always be searching for subjects I believe would interest the majority of readers.
Let's face it, valued readers, if I don't write about subjects I believe others find relevant, interesting or entertaining, then I'm not fulfilling my original mandate. Regularly filling a void with words, or becoming predictable in my choice of subject matter, in my mind anyway, wouldn't create a must-read for most subscribers.
Consequently, in my columns I choose not to delve too deeply into matters of raw politics in our deeply divided country awash in lies, bitterness, false hatred, disgraceful corruption, unmatched greed, unparalleled nastiness, name-calling and naked power grabs.
I believe most peace-loving readers are fed up to their goozles with the daily onslaught of negative and deceptive political news, much of which has become toxic.
So why should I regularly choose to stumble into that sulfuric pit knowing my opinion likely would add only to existing anger and division while resulting in nothing of enduring value or significance? Plus I'd be needlessly alienating about half of my prospective readers with different political views.
I awakened this morning with the urge to share these thoughts with those who thankfully chose to read them. And now you know what's at the forefront of this pea-sized brain each day when I sit to write. You.
Corrupting our SCOTUS
After trying my best to watch the televised proceedings surrounding the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, I'm considering filing suit against my former civics teacher who in 1965 wrongly explained that U.S. Supreme Court justices receive lifetime appointments to ensure their decisions are not influenced by either political party or outside interests.
So when did the objective approach change? When did U.S. senators begin factoring in a potential justice's personal and political leanings as grounds for approval to the court, as opposed to seeking candidates based on their ability to adhere strictly to the words of our Constitution?
None of us lives in a vacuum. And I submit any group of elected "public servants" intent on microscopically pursuing another's human flaws and poor choices over their lifetime will find something to criticize.
Along the same lines, when did it become acceptable to openly smear clearly accomplished candidates because their future judicial decisions might favor a particular political side? In a polarized society, even the most objective justice's decision will invariably fall on one side or the other politically.
Just when did we lose our dignity, civility, respect and maturity and start working to politically manipulate the selection process in this power-mad, corrupted system that now ignores we the very people they serve?
Considering the bellyful we've witnessed of late from D.C. swamp dwellers, it's readily apparent that a nominee's political views matter a lot in the U.S. Senate.
The latest example I can give of perversion and corruption in the SCOTUS selection process is the oft-repeated accusation that, if elected, Joe Biden would intentionally enlarge (aka pack) the court with nominees loyal to the Democrat political agenda specifically to control the court's future decisions.
Anyone else feel that intentionally seeking politicized justices for our Supreme Court was not our founder's intent? As friend David Fitton says, the first qualification for being a justice should be they are politically independent as opposed to acting as de facto legislators.
My other friend Danny Timbrook simplified the gross perversion by understating, "Something isn't right."
Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]