The Write Thing To Do

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”


I hate criticism. Yet, I open myself up to it all the time. Not just because I’m an idiot, but deliberately with my writing. As some of you know, I sometimes write about delicate subjects.

As a writer, I believe I have to from an argument in order to challenge others. Otherwise the piece of writing amounts to a limp willy. It doesn’t penetrate anything!

But that inevitably means I end up drawing lines in grey areas. That opens the piece of writing – and me, by extension – up to criticism.

So, I often get anxious before I publish one of these posts. When someone does criticise my work, it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach.

I end up questioning myself. Asking why I don’t just shut the fuck up and attend to my own garden.

I know I could easily write some hopeful feel-good post about love. That will certainly get more likes. But truthfully I love thinking about topics such as nihilism, religion, God, and death. Ones that many people avoid like the plague.

When I write about these things, as hard as I’ve thought about them, I know my argument isn’t fully formed. I know I must wrong on many levels. 

But does that mean I shouldn’t attempt to form one? Knowing that what I’m saying is wrong in some way, shape, or form (or perhaps entirely)?

Should I not try to make sense of the incomprehensible? Should I not try to have an opinion as poorly formed as it might be? Should I not put that opinion out there even if it is laughed at, stamped on, or completely torn apart?

Should we not do the same with any piece of art? As imperfect as it is?

That’s one of the main reasons I do: to help me find the blindspots in my thinking. Which are both gigantic and numerous. I’m not just trying to challenge you with my writing; I’m trying to challenge myself. 

There’s another reason.

When I feel particularly anxious about publishing something or hurt by someone else’s comments, I realise, at least, there’s some falsehood in me that I need to pay attention to. A part of my ego that needs to be broken down.

At the end of the day words are just words. We’re the ones that give them meaning. 

Being offended is my issue. It’s one I certainly have. But I’m not alone. If you’re offended by someone’s words that’s your problem. That’s your belief crashing with reality.

It’s your choice to get offended.

I’m not saying don’t challenge other people. Quite the opposite. What I am saying is check your own emotional reaction first. Look inward and note, “Hey, there’s something for me to think about there.” 

Then take a breath or ten. Re-read that post that angered you and really consider the argument – but also, crucially, what triggered your emotional reaction. If you really don’t agree with something, say so. 

You should. 

But maybe start with a point you do agree with, something you do like. There is a way to break the ice. If you hurl rocks at people they aren’t going to receive them.

When I see some of the comments people make. The sheer disdain. The savagery of certain trolls who feel the need to put others down. It’s no wonder people remain silent. 

Why would you want to subject yourself to that kind of torment? 

But what happens in a culture like this? Where people are so afraid to exercise their freedom of speech? What is happening?

I’ll give you an example.

The other day I was watching a gangster movie. A guy was kneeling before a mobster with a gun pointed toward his head. Just before the mobster pulled the trigger, the guy kneeling said, “Darn you!” Of course, this had been doctored so as not to offend people. But then, he has his fucking brain blown out!

What kind of fucked up morality is that?

To me it speaks to a country where guns are legal but saying something that might hurt someone else’s feelings increasingly isn’t. Where someone can get up on stage and slap someone else in the face before picking up his award to a standing ovation. 

Do we really believe cancel culture is having the desired effect? Is it really silencing hateful voices, or is it, in fact, encouraging them? Worse, is it not making good people less resilient in the face of those voices? Is it not making us all less tolerant?

Here’s where I contradict myself.

Words are just words in relation to the meaning we give them. But the ability to say those words in the first place is priceless. Freedom of speech isn’t a given. It’s something we must fight for. One way to do that is by exercising that freedom. So be brave and speak up. Say what it is you really think. 

Right or wrong. 

But be humble enough to consider the other side and admit when/where you might have it wrong. If you need help understanding something, ask questions. If you’re struggling to see it from the other side, become curious, not judgemental.

We all have our beliefs. We all cling to them out of security. We’re all ignorant to a large degree. We all just want to be heard.

Be sensitive to that. 

It’s so easy to attack others. It’s so easy to place them on a lower pedestal – to laugh at their mistakes or deride their point of view. It’s much harder to put yourself in their shoes and consider where their argument really comes from.

It’s even harder to put yourself out there despite these things – or rather precisely because of them – because you believe, as much as it hurts, it’s the right thing to do.

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21 thoughts on “The Write Thing To Do

  • Thank you for sharing another insightful post, AP2. Just so you know, I appreciate you and your writing.
    The old version of Art could definitely relate to what you shared. When I was married and used to write novels, I so wanted the approval and appreciation of my wife. There was a part of “me” that needed it. It took many years, but I’m so glad that that has dropped away. Recognizing the false self for what it is was a big part of that. “Who” I would now ask myself would need that?

    I’ll definitely be looking forward to your next post! Our challenges are the rocket fuel. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Art. I appreciate you and yours too. I’m trying to find that distance from my ego. It still sucks me in from time to time. I have trouble determining the wood from the trees. It’s funny how our need for approval makes it harder to approve of and accept ourselves. Letting go is key.


      • You’re very welcome, AP2; and thank you, also. You’ve shared so much in your reply: “I’m trying to find that distance from my ego.” The real YOU is totally free from your ego “and” the form of “AP2.” In fact, the world and him appear “in” That which you are. I hope you won’t mind, but I’m attaching the link to one of my very short videos about this subject. I suffered “Art” for many years. One of the keys that really worked for me–everytime–was to remember how eyesight functions. Everything seen (including our body-mind) is a representational form. There’s no escaping this, because it’s the truth.
        Kind wishes, as always,


  • I’m sorry that you receive negative comments from trolls, that’s a downer. Just mark them as spam, and leave them be! Some folks need to vent and search for places where they can get a foothold. If they perceive your blog as a place to dump their negativity, you don’t have to engage with them at all, you can block or mark them as spam. I’ve done that to a couple of people, and haven’t had any problems since then. I think they circle in groups, and if they see one of their own finding a foothold, they come and join the party they see happening!

    Liked by 1 person

  • A quote I recently learned and think about is from writer James Baldwin: “Artists are here to disturb the peace.” And writing is a form of art and self expression.

    So if you provoked a reaction or a thought, perhaps a differing viewpoint, you did your job, AP.

    It’s a very interesting world we live in today where it’s so easy to try to cancel another person. But that’s an even more greater reason why we need to keep at the craft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love that quote. So true. I believe it’s the artist job to transform what is ugly into something beautiful. To tear down what isn’t working and create something better in its place. I also believe it’s the artists job to help people see. To look where they don’t want to.

      Thanks for sharing Ab 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Keep writing AP2 and sharing what you feel is right. A good debate is how you learn. Each and everyone one of us is unique and don’t we all have different views? Oh how the world is changing when it comes to freedom of speech. Hold that head up sir 🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bernie. I shall. I agree. Debate is necessary for highlighting each other’s blind spots. If we are learn anything we must come from a place of open mindedness. A willingness to learn. I believe respect is key. Hope you are well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • “Be curious, not judgmental.” Love this! I believe having an open mind and willingness to understand some else’s point of view is key for creating better relationships. Thanks sharing. I love reading your blogs.


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