Just So You Know

Climate change. That was the topic for the "Musing of the Moment" of the January issue of my eLetter "The Muse." Like all of my musing moments, it was written from the heart, with reflection and respect. Some of the people subscribed to the eLetter routinely email me back after every issue to send words of support, thanks, encouragement, and sometimes simply their thoughts and ruminations.

Imagine my surprise at an email that arrived in my Inbox the next day, titled "just so you know." It was from a reader I had exchanged a few emails with, a reader who had done a wonderful, heartfelt review of one of my books, a reader who... now decided to unsubscribe from my eLetter because of my apparent "stance" on climate change.

In the email the reader explained she was unsubscribing because she had had no idea I "... had been sucked into the false religion of global warming." The email went on to say a few things to me personally that were not so nice—or accurate.

I have a thick skin. These kinds of things I never take personally; everyone is absolutely free to subscribe or unsubscribe from my eLetters, read or not read my books, like me as an author or not like me as an author. And because we live in a country that is supposed to value the principle of the freedom of speech, people are also free to say all manner of things to one another. Whether the recipient of a particular statement or offense appreciates said statement or offense, however, is another matter. They are also free to dislike and disagree.

What struck me is that not only had this reader unsubscribed on the basis of a brief piece that had nothing to do with my literary work, but she apparently felt so strongly about it that she had taken it upon herself to let me know in no uncertain terms what she thought of me personally. Without bothering to get to know me personally.

Some of you might think, best not to reply! Just leave it alone! But I did reply, because I'm genuinely interested in people and their points of view. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be a journalist or a writer.

My questions into the heart of the matter, into the real reason why what I had written set off such a strong reaction, went unanswered; instead, the replies spun around my position on climate change as perceived by this reader.  

And I thought, regardless of who is right or wrong about this particular topic, why unsubscribe from a literary eLetter? Is disagreement not healthy? Does it not help us see other points of view? With all due respect to freedom of speech, I do find it saddening that a person would cut themselves off from a writer whose work they have genuinely enjoyed because they disagree with that writer on a topic—especially one that does actually impact the entire planet (whether caused by us homies sapienses or not).

It's like Chip MacGregor said in a recent post on a completely unrelated topic: "We don’t want to hear from experts, we want to hear from people who agree with us!"