If you have something to say, please write it down

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

Everyone who writes for this paper, or whose column appears within, obviously has something to say. We (the collective we) don’t agree with everything everyone writes, whether it’s their opinion or their slant on reporting the news, but if it’s not obscene, filled with unfix-able grammar, or borders on some fanatical and outrageous suggestions that might come from the poison-filled minds of the likes of those responsible for the horrors of 9/11, chances are it could well be published.
We (the Las Vegas Tribune) have had some of everything come across our desks, and while we do not criticize their writing style, or the subject about which they want to write, we reserve the right to not publish articles that blatantly spew hatred, obvious racism, or unnecessary and unproven information that could destroy a person’s life. That may be debatable on some levels, but often, we find that truth can stand up to criticism. Or, as I’ve often mentioned in this column, truth never suffers from honest examination.
There are those who try to create truth out of their own opinions, but those who try to do so are like ignorant chefs who try to replicate gustatory masterpieces by guessing what ingredients are in the finished product and further guessing as to the amounts of each and even the baking times and such. The end result is simply their guesswork, their opinions, made into something barely palatable to feed their readers.
Many of us choose to write our opinions, but we make it clear in some way that we are not speaking “ex cathedra,” as though we are the know-all and end-all on the subject about which we are writing — unless we somehow are experts on our subject matter; even then, however, we may still be writing our opinions on our subject rather than, or in conjunction with, what we deem to be the facts and just the facts, as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say.
We are always free to write about our own experiences, but if we write about someone else’s experiences, we are liable to misinterpret them or misunderstand them, and we cannot stand behind those experiences as if they were our own. That is why even history books may not always be true, and those categorized as fiction may be. I generally do not read fiction, but some books that were ostensibly written as fiction reflect the truth of the times in which they were written and enable us to see into the past as history books cannot and do not. Such books can be reread at different times over the course of our life and offer up new insights with each reading. That’s one reason I keep all my books after I’ve read them, if I feel they have any such value to me, and my library keeps growing.
But even newspaper articles can have long-lasting value. They may seem to be disposable — whether daily or weekly — and once read, deserving of being relegated to the so-called circular file (the trash can) if they are actually on paper, or subject to our often-used delete button once read and we’re on to the next thing, but I still have articles in
my filing cabinet from the ‘60s that I will read again some day.
I chuckle to myself at imagining what my children will say when they come across this or that article, all yellowed with age, and wonder why in the world I saved it in the first place. It is a favorite pastime of mine to every now and then go through some of those old clippings and revisit those articles that caught my attention over the years. They may not be so precious to anyone else, but in a way, they reflect something about me during those years, and maybe even contain information that is no longer available in today’s world, internet or not.
Words have value. Some for a moment, some forever. Yet the value lies in who is reading them and how they are received. That’s one reason why I love poetry so much: words that were written centuries ago can still have as much value — or even more—to those reading them today.
My favorite poet, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, more commonly known as just Rumi, was a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, yet even today, millions of copies of his work are being sold, making him the most popular poet in the US. The poet I treasure most after Rumi is Kahlil Gibran, a more modern poet who was Lebanese, and my late husband’s favorite poet. Gibran wrote The Prophet, considered his masterpiece, which was published in 1923, when he was about 40 years old.
In the peace and silence of the night, there is nothing like snuggling up with a good book of poetry and a cup of tea. That is my opinion and also my truth. Since it is true for me and has been my personal experience, no one can comment otherwise and try to pass off their own opinion of my experience and make up some version of truth about how I feel about poetry. Do you get the gist of how some writers try to do just that by turning the experiences of others into their own version of how they choose to interpret your experience from their viewpoint?
Don’t let that happen. You and you alone know how things are and were from your own experience.
And so, the world of words — and that includes the world of all the writers and all the readers as well — goes on and on, as it has for centuries; sometimes to entertain us, sometimes to inform us, and sometimes to uplift us. May we never confuse being informed with being entertained, even though the truth can sometimes be amusing, but
mainly may we never lose an opportunity to be uplifted — something this world needs very much these days.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramistribune@gmail.com.

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