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A Few Closing Thoughts on Approaching Complex Issues

Personally, I always come to discussions with the mindset of developing a deeper understanding of the subject matter, not to simply push my current understanding of the issue.

When Patch was pretty new on the scene, I was asked to write a series of articles on the subject of bullying. I don’t even remember how I originally met up with Patch’s Manchester Editor David Moran, but meet we did and a career as an author was launched.

Now, nearly two years and almost 80 articles later, it’s time to step down as a Patch columnist. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and have been glad to have had this experience, it’s time to move on. 

My first column, “” was published April 6, 2011, and launched a series of articles on the issue of bullying in our school systems and elsewhere. When the issue of bullying started to turn around in our school systems, I moved on to more general pieces dealing with topical issues in the news. I hope that my articles on bullying helped in some way to change the climate in the Manchester school system around the issue of bullying. 

For better or for worse, my favorite columns were the ones that engaged the most people in discussion as evidenced by the posts in the “Tell me in the comments” section. I don’t write to simply put forth my own beliefs on a particular subject, but rather to help people work through issues they are having, maybe provide a framework that can help people come to better understanding of an issue or just to help people formulate their own thoughts to better expound on a subject matter.

As I look back over nearly 80 articles, I wonder how I could have possibly accomplished such a feat. But then I realize, as with all things in life, it happens a little bit at a time. For those of you who have often thought about becoming writers, whether for a column or for a book, let this be an inspiration to you. If I had sat down at the beginning of all this and said “I have to write 80 columns” it would never have happened. Just focus on doing a little bit each day and before you know it, you’ve got enough material for a book.

My martial art students know that I am a strong believer in writing thank you notes as a way to let others know that they have touched my life in a special way. So thank you to all those who took the time to write and let me know that my articles helped them in some way. That was, after all, the whole reason for writing them in the first place.

I’d even like to thank the haters — and there were quite a few! While it truly amazes me at how angry some would become simply because an alternate point of view was being offered, I hope my articles were instrumental in breaking through some of that anger and then became a catalyst for some good debates that helped to move issues forward.

Special thanks go to my better half Elaine Flaherty and my friend Giancarlo Fusco for volunteering to read and review my columns before setting them loose on the general public. I’m sure my editors extend their heartfelt thanks as well, as it certainly made their lives a bit easier.

Personally, I always approach discussions with the mindset of developing a deeper understanding of the subject matter, not to simply push my current understanding of the issue. I wish more would take this approach more often as none of us really “know the truth.” The best any of us can hope to do is to know “of the truth.” Truth is not a static thing. It grows and changes based on things like time, geography, maturity, etc.  

It’s been a pleasure and a great privilege to write for Patch, to share my views on various subjects and to, hopefully, help others see the world through different eyes. 

So, keep an open mind, keep striving for an ever deeper understanding of the truth and keep seeking to bridge the gaps between your understanding of a thing and someone else's. We’re all in this together. It’s high time we acted like it.

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