I’ve been writing in an online context for about 6 years now. I found my passion for writing after a break up with an incredible friend and my fiancé at the time. I decided to give online dating a try and came across a singles forum which hosted what seemed an endless array of topics on which to share your heart, mind and soul. I learned a great deal through reading the posts on that site, but I also learned a great deal about myself. I found that I had a great deal of wisdom and common sense in me that I wasn’t aware of. I suppose it was an accumulation of my life experience, but because I’d never consciously tapped into it, I just wasn’t aware of it. Responding to some of the posts I read or simply writing out my thoughts helped me to do two things: I learned that I knew more than I was aware of and it helped me to solidify my personal philosophy. I became very aware of what I believed in nearly all aspects of my life. I continue to learn each day through this same kind of interaction. I learn from being challenged by people and original thought. I’m constantly taught by others because I try to remain open, humble and I try to do reflective listening. I’m not saying that I get it right all of the time, but I am willing to take time to sit quietly and reflect upon my experience and contrast it against the experience of others through interaction with them.
I’m also an early riser and I’m one of those people who, once they wake is immediately ready to go. I don’t need a stretch, a morning coffee or whatever time it takes to wake the mind from sleep. I’m good to go when my eyes open. The thing is though, I love to lay in my bed and read. Why not… I have this little cocoon of warmth surrounding me and it feels great to just lay and read. It’s also the time when I like to write down my thoughts. I’m grateful for blogging, forums or just the ability to easily reach out to a group of friends through written word.
You might be wondering… YAWN… where the heck is he going with this? That’s a good question and maybe I should get to the point! This morning while enjoying my coffee in bed (I only said I didn’t need coffee, not that I don’t love it), I was looking at my newsfeed on Facebook. My friends usually find little pearls of wisdom and post them to their “walls”. This morning was no different, but it was the article I found that caught my attention and which inspired this response. It was an article on the paradox of life and was attributed to George Carlin. Good old George… he nearly always cracked me up and I thought a great deal of his work was brilliant. Reading through the article though, I found inconsistencies between the expressions I was reading and the man I understood George to be. It seemed out of character for him to be making some of the statements I was reading! He actually talked about God and faith in a somewhat reverent way which was not at all the irreverent George I’d come to know over the years. The prefacing article indicated that George’s words were written after the death of his wife, but prior to his own (it claimed that they both died in the same year… they did not). I thought that maybe it was possible George had found a relationship with God just prior to his death, but that also seemed in contrast to much of what I’d read about his interment. Nope… this just didn’t seem right… “Something seemed very wrong here” as he would often say.
This article was only shared or reposted on my friend’s wall and was a link to the original Facebook article. I decided to read through the comments on the original post rather than racing to Google or Snopes to see what was up. I quickly found my answer. It seemed that others felt similarly to me and after reading through all of the debate, I discovered the truth. George had not written the article at all. It was in fact, written by Dr. Bob Moorehead who is the retired pastor of a Church in Seattle, WA. While I was sad to discover that George had not found relationship with God in the few remaining days of his life, I was also disappointed in something else. Why is it that something profound and valuable is thought to be less valuable just because someone famous didn’t author it? Why is it that people feel the need to take valuable thought and attribute it to someone else?
I decided to further check the article on Snopes and found that Dr. Moorehead’s words were attributed to more than just George. The authorship of the article had also been attributed to others like the Dalai Lama and an unnamed student at Columbine High School. Why? My point is, no matter who wrote the article, I personally liked what it had to say! I felt it had value, contributed positively to our society and it was thought provoking. Why do people feel it will receive greater credibility if it is attributed to someone famous? Ever heard of viral posts? How about the little girls on Facebook who in 2013 wanted a puppy and whose Dad said “If you can get a million likes by tomorrow, we’ll get a puppy”. Well… they now have a puppy! You don’t need to be famous to have something good or valuable to say. You just have to be willing to say what you feel and believe, have integrity in your words and be willing to back them up!
I’m a man of deep Christian faith, but I loved and respected Carlin and his work! He was a man who was deeply reconciled to what he believed and he stood by it! I may not have always agreed with him, but I respected him and his choice!
Sadly, I see this kind of thing more and more frequently and I find it really disappointing… even appalling! If something is worth reading, it will be read. Simple as that. Who the author is matters little to me. I’m interested in expanding my knowledge and understanding and the only way I’m going to do that is to expose myself to different thoughts and perspectives. I don’t have to agree with Carlin to like him! I’ve never read Dr. Moorehead’s stuff until this morning but I can tell you that I now like him too! I had some questions about his thoughts, but that’s another matter. What I find paradoxical though is that an article on life and faith was attributed to an outright atheist who chose to debunk “faith” whenever the subject arose. George Carlin actually commented on the article, “A Paradox of Our Time” and called the article “a load of shit” which was definitely in keeping with his character.
Folks… wisdom is wisdom. I’ve read stuff from six year olds that I thought was profound and thought provoking! Taking an original thought and then attributing it to someone famous or outspoken does not make it any more real, correct or valid. If anything, it takes away from the power of the words because it shows that people aren’t convicted in their understanding, philosophy or faith. While he was on earth, Jesus shared a lot of knowledge and wisdom… it didn’t catch on immediately, but look where we are today! You might even draw an ironic parallel between George and Jesus. They both deeply believed in what they said and had the courage to stand behind it!