Hearsay: A Public Service Announcement

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Hearsay

In every town, in every street,
In nearly every house, you meet
A little imp, who wriggles in
With half a sneer and half a grin,
And climbs upon your rocking chair,
Or creeps upon you anywhere;
And when he gets you very near,
Just whispers something in your ear-
Some rumor of another’s shame-
And “Little Hearsay” is his name.
He never really claims to know-
He’s only heard that it is so;
And then he whispers it to you,
So you will go and whisper too.
For if enough is passed along
The rumor, even though it’s wrong-
If John tells Henry, Henry-Joe,
And Joe tells Mary, Mary-Flo,
And Flo tells Mildred, Mildred-Ruth-
It very soon may pass for truth.
You understand, this little elf
He doesn’t say he knows himself,
He doesn’t claim it’s really true-
He only whispers it to you,
Because he knows you’ll go and tell
Some other whisperer as well.
And so before the setting sun
He gets the devil’s mischief done,
And there is less of joy and good
Around your little neighborhood.
Look out for “Hearsay!” when he sneaks
Inside the house-when slander speaks
Just ask the proof in every case;
Just ask the name and date and place;
And if he says he’s only heard,
Declare you don’t believe a word,
And tell him you will not repeat
The silly chatter of the street.
However gossips smile and smirk,
Refuse to do their devil’s work.

Author unknown, circa 1929.

Recreational Criticism and the Shelter of Anonymity

We live in an era of recreational criticism. For many, being critical of nearly everything and everyone has become an acceptable form of entertainment. This is nothing new for government officials and others in the public eye. They have long been targets of criticism. Rightly so, in many cases, yet the rush to find and magnify less developed or unrefined areas within organizations and individuals typically serves no purpose.

What is troubling is the tendency among critics to continue to criticize long after the events of their angst have passed without looking back, evaluating the current situation, and determining if their criticism is still valid. As if the critic reserves the right to dictate who can change and progress and who cannot.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than among those who post comments online anonymously. The temptation to throw rocks from behind the shelter of anonymity is intoxicating. The thrill and vanity of being a faceless voice in the public square keeps the critic from recognizing that the gift anonymity has become a cloak of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy never looks back at its own shadow. It has no rearview mirrors. It expects but never offers apology. What power is there in an anonymous apology? The shelter of anonymity eliminates the need for the critic to account for anything.

In a day of increasing transparency, perhaps it’s time for the critic to reevaluate the point of aimless words and find a more constructive hobby.

There is no shame in admitting the present is not the past. Everyone has the right to change. Even the critic.

“As long as I’m with you I’m not lost”

Lonesome Road by Cory Voglesonger

Years ago as my grandparents were driving through the mountains of North Georgia, my grandfather at the wheel and my grandmother at his side, my grandfather made a series of wrong turns before he realized he was lost. After trying several different routes he was not only unable to determine where they were headed, but he was eventually unable to get back to where they had been.

After all attempts had been exhausted he turned and said, “We’re lost.” My grandmother replied, “I’m not lost.” “What do you mean you’re not lost?” he asked. She said, “As long as I’m with you I’m not lost.”

The recognition that being together means never being lost is a profound truth. It was a characteristic of their marriage of over sixty years.  Location didn’t matter. Time didn’t matter. Being together, side by side, patient with each other, and knowing that those we travel with are far more important than when or how we reach our destination was what mattered.

After making a few course corrections they eventually found their way back to familiar roads. Throughout the rest of their lives together they continued to travel across the back roads of Georgia with their children, grandchildren, and other family members, occasionally getting turned around but never lost.  Their travels are a metaphor for their life together.

Are we truly lost when those who matter to us most are close by? My grandmother didn’t think so. Her nine little words, “As long as I’m with you I’m not lost”, speak volumes. They are also a reminder that kind words, spoken well, can last forever.

Folktales Vs. Fairy tales

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Is there a difference between a folktale and fairy tale? In the following paragraphs Arthur Henry King (1910 -2000) reveals the strength of a folktale and the emptiness of fairy tale.

Matters like these should occupy the minds of parents and educators rather than the pleasantries of sedation and distraction that are constantly in view.

We need to acquaint children with folktales, which are the classics of their own tradition. And we need to recognize that there is a great difference between a folktale and a fairy tale. A fairy tale is a make-over of a folktale. A fairy tale tries to make the world more pleasant than the folktale represents it, pleasanter than it really is. Under the impression that the world will be bad enough for children when they come to it. The fairy tale represents life as something restricted and magically protected. The fairy tale does not help children at all.


If you turn to the original Grimm’s folktales, you will find that the folk have profoundly understood over thousands of years that children must face up to nightmares and horror and cruelty. And since children have to face up to those things, the best place for them to do so for the first time is on a parent’s lap, where they have a sense of security. If children are not “terrified” on their parent’s laps, they will be terrified in their dreams when their parents aren’t there. We know enough about children from a very early age to know that they have their nightmares and their horrors and their darkness. If we don’t give them those kinds of experiences, they still have them.


By becoming acquainted with folk literature, children may be educated. By that means, they may grow up facing reality. And if they grow up facing reality, there will be no crisis of confidence between them and society.

Arthur Henry King – Arm the Children, BYU Studies 1998, page 243-244.

Benazir Bhutto and Pakistani Politics

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto, Former Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was assassinated today after a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Over a dozen of her supporters were killed and many more were injured. At least one of the attackers is dead. More details are still being gathered.

I am amazed at the level of violence and hatred brooding in the hearts of men bringing them to commit such evil. I join with others in condemning this cowardly act. There is little strength in violence.

My wife and I first heard Ms. Bhutto at a speaking engagement eight years ago. At the time Bhutto was living in exile as the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Her remarks were impressive. She spoke of the politics of personal destruction, the double standards between men and women, and the plight of those in Pakistan not knowing when the next elections will take place or if there will be elections.

She was pleased to tell us that there were no honor killings (The parents of a woman killing her for dishonoring the family) under her administration in Pakistan. She told us that the same organization that carried out the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, attempted to assassinate her. Little did we know that band of criminals would become a household name three years later.                                 

Two things she told us stand out in my mind today:

Your responsibilities to life are greater than your own wantings

In times of crisis, it is your caring for others that is your greatest strength

I do not know the details of Ms. Bhutto’s administration or the intricacies of her controversies, but I know that the winds of life can carry us into paths we have not chosen and today she has paid the ultimate price for choosing to speak out and return to Pakistan.

May the Pakistani people overcome this attack and not let it be fuel for continued destruction.

Recreational Criticism

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Recreational critics. You know them well. Whether it’s someone’s shoes, hair, or children these critics can’t seem to help themselves from pointing out flaws. It’s one of their favorite hobbies, a past time, solely for entertainment.

In polite society we turn our head away from the crowd before we sneeze or cough. Why is it that when someone has meaningless criticism and a desire to share it, they run directly into the crowd and intentionally spread it as far and wide as they can?

Even more surprising is how readily we, the listeners, adopt this critical attitude. We become hosts, drones, passing on these parasitic words. If someone sneezes on you, you’ll get over 99% of whatever bug you may have picked up. The percentages for overcoming the damaging effects of a critical nature are much lower. The antibodies come as a higher price.

Be careful to whom you lend your ear. Is there value in the criticism? Can something good come of it? If not, don’t feed the hobby.