I am not prone to read the comments following my blog posts, but occasionally I will check and see what is there and if I have been misunderstood about anything.  I continue to be dismayed at the uncivil comments that appear from the left and the right.  And what happened to the intelligent and educated "middle"?

I've given speeches throughout Europe and North America.  Sometimes the audiences are primarily made up of people who have right and left political perspectives.  But the questions and comments, even from those who may disagree with me, are respectful, civilized, and well thought-through.  I've addressed audiences as large as 10,000 people, but never have had comments at the low level of those here.  That is sad.  Blogs are new.  This specific blog site is new to me, and when I was asked to consider starting a blog at this site, I refused.  But I was pressed and the request was offered again.  I accepted.  Little did I know I would run into this kind of anti-intellectual commentary.  It is loaded with negativity, hate, racism, etc.  When I read the comments here I feel like I want to take a bath.  Those commenting are not even aware of the utter nonsense they present as truth and facts.  The level of comments belongs in the gutter.

And where do the people commenting get their misinformation about me?  For example, I have never been a college professor yet that designation for me comes up often.  I have never been a member of any political party, yet reading the comments one would be certain I represent a specific party.  I have been chastised for being critical of George W. Bush, and have been lambasted for criticizing Russ Feingold.

What is most disturbing are the references to my "silver spoon" life.  I was raised in poverty that few Americans ever experience.  Factually, at 8 years old I was totally feeding and clothing myself by shining shoes in taverns and singing for coins.  I also took various jobs that a kid my age could do [e.g. I pulled weeds on truck farms and shoveled people's snow-filled sidewalks].  I always had a job.  Nobody in my huge extended family ever went to college.  I was not only discouraged from going to college, I was never given a penny.  I worked as a janitor at the college, did any menial job I could find, in the summer I worked as many hours as I could in a foundry and sold beer at the ballpark.  I drove a cab when I should have been sleeping.  I always had a full time job when I went to graduate school and sometimes worked two jobs while getting my Master's degrees.

I have generously given to charity all my life, and have served on dozens of not-for-profit boards of directors.  If it would help the unfortunate in society, I would gladly support a raise in taxes.  If I can help my fellow man and woman, I have always been ready to offer my help.  I think this is what life is all about: sharing.  I am dismayed at the level of greed and selfishness that has evolved in our society.

You may differ with me on any of this and I want you to feel free to do so in comments.  But please do so in a civil manner.  There is more to life than simply focusing on left or right political solutions at all costs.

Let's start over now, and present our opinions without rancor and personal attacks.  None of us knows everything so don't present yourself as though you do.  You don't.  A forum like this can be a wonderful place to vent thoughts and opinions.  I'm interested.  But I am not interested in learning what kind of jerk you are.  There are too many places already for that.

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