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I’m starting with an apology. Ninety-nine percent of the time I sit down to write something, the end turns out quite differently than my original intent. So if I stray a bit by the end, I blame it on too much Hugo-esque romanticist tangent. What I mean to express is my heartfelt gratitude for being part of the Ricochet community. It truly is a special group that is defined not by some platitude-riddled mission statement, an out-of-touch, heavy-handed cabal, nor an elitist clique demanding oaths of servitude. It is shaped and conditioned by its members. And the founders, editors, contributors, and moderators keep us ever striving for the best we can offer each other, and I am in awe at how the bar keeps rising.
Today the news media environment is unimaginative and condescending. The condensed national network news shows spend 30 seconds on a few breaking stories (a full minute if it’s on Republican voters and QAnon). They’re the Thin Oreos of news: Sure it’s called an Oreo, but without the good stuff in the middle, is it even worth it? They might as well run a ticker across the screen and save the money they pay their teleprompter readers who are so serious, so articulate, so unrelatable. Cable news is just as bad but in a whole different way. Most of it is the same stories from a decade ago, just with more gray hair. The hosts use their platforms to throw grenades at other news shows, pundits, or politicians. The ‘debates’ are either struggle sessions or yelling matches that leave viewers feeling like a kid watching his divorced parents fight.
But Ricochet is different. Posts come from people across the country and throughout the world. People with different perspectives and backgrounds that foster rich, smart, informed debates that might not come to any solid conclusion, but leave one feeling the investment was worth the time. They inform, they entertain, they inspire. On any given day, no matter what has happened in the world, I am always surprised by the treasures I find from fellow members, both in the posts, and the comments that follow. Rarely is there the brief flash of rudeness, usually a byproduct of the passionate voices represented here. Ricochet is the model for intelligent, thoughtful, civil discourse that seems to be badly lacking in today’s attention-deficit, hyperactive, politicized society.
When I was introduced to Ricochet by one of the editors, it was as if I was given the key to the Secret Garden. And I could help tend the grounds! It was a priceless gift for someone who spent a lifetime being on the outside looking in. I was the poor kid in hand-me-downs with her hot little forehead pressed against the window. I spent my formative years a bookish introvert who dedicated her time to school and sports. Friendships beyond my family were non-existent, and it mostly persists today. Growing up, it taught me self-reliance and I developed a fierce independence, but it left a cavernous hole that personal relationships should fill. My long-suffering husband should be eligible for sainthood by now, being my only partner to ride the rollercoaster of ups and downs. At Ricochet, no one seemed to care that I was Quasimodo. There are no pariahs, no diktat, and no allegiance to this ideology or that. The boundaries are limited only by the interests and opinions and thoughts of the community, which are extended each and every day.
I very nearly gave up recently. My mind seems to be a soft target for personal anguish and dejection. The details don’t matter – they hardly ever do – but every setback cancels the gains by twofold. I’m very used to rejection. I think anyone who hasn’t gone through failure isn’t trying hard enough at life. But lately the no’s piled up higher than I could see past. Every rejection was a confirmation that I was an unwanted soul. I believed God had picked me for his amusement: To lead me on by dangling a few morsels of hope, only to watch me trip and fall flat on my back. He was Lucy with the football, and I was the pathetic Charlie Brown. I wondered if the pain was worth the process. But in the darkest time, even the faintest light can reveal a path out of the desolation. I was given that light by someone who has the wisdom, insight, and grace to understand that to write is to be. And this may be my chance to fulfill a purpose – probably not to change anyone’s mind, or be an earth-shaker, or cross any ‘important’ person’s radar, but to give back to a group that has given me so much.
In closing, I want to express my deepest, most sincere appreciation for my fellow members, the contributors, editors, moderators, and the technicians who keep the site running. I’m thankful for the men and women who keep making this place one of constant enrichment – through posts, stories, podcasts, conversations and debates, and friendships. I’m grateful for the people here – Founders on down – who continue to make political and cultural challenges fun and interesting instead of life-or-death perpetual wars. Because where else can I go to get the latest Saturday Night Old-Time Radio Show, hear an interview with a thought-provoking author, hear about the latest chicken-coop adoption, and get the latest from the anarchy in Seattle? It’s all here, and sometimes it works in mysterious ways.
“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Dietrich BonhoefferPublished in