A good wife? A good husband?

Posted 08.23.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Editorials are usually about current events, politics, topics of the day -- from a new streetlight to closing a school, bullying to illiteracy rates, high gas prices and the lack of recycling in your local mall, you name it --but always removed from our most personal concerns and certainly far from our personal lives. Editorials appeal, most often, to our brains rather than our feelings, to our community more than our bedrooms ... and why is that?

If we were each to list the biggest topics in our lives, few lists would include a closed school or a coming election. Yet editorial writers avoid these personal topics even if they are on everyone's minds.

The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset has written on "the persistent lack of understanding between males and females," but that lack of understanding, no matter how persistent, will rarely be the subject of an editorial.

We don't avoid personal subjects elsewhere in newspapers -- there are articles in the press about improving one's relationships and communication skills, even improving our skills in romance. There are letters to the editor about personal subjects, and in the classified ads there are the infamous "personals." But not in editorials.

This is a relief to editorial writers. No one wants a whole new field to research, one that is a minefield of personal, emotional, religious, and cultural opinions. It's very thin ice. Who likes walking -- and talking -- on thin ice?

This is strange in a further sense: Most of us have opinions on interpersonal communications, on dealing with difficult kids or spouses, spending habits, and even on personal hygiene, and we all seem ready to give our opinions on these subjects -- but they still don't make it to the editorial pages.

First, editorials are a technical matter, demanding research and life experience. We find it difficult to separate our judgment calls on these personal subjects from our own experiences -- in other words, we often end up speaking about ourselves, whereas we think we're speaking about an objective situation where, for example, parents can't communicate with a teen, or a husband with a wife.

As well, our temptation is always to speak in absolute terms -- every husband does this, every wife says that, every teenager wants such and such. Yet we know in our own lives, "every" rarely applies to anything. There are exceptions to every rule, and there certainly are exceptions to every generalization about men, women, families, and so forth. It is difficult to write -- or read -- an concise editorial about a subject which has innumerable exceptions and special cases.

And, lastly, could it be we fear most to dig too deeply, to expose our own inner injuries and hurts -- even our personal desires and ambitions? Digging deeply into our own hearts and families is what these personal subjects require -- and that's why personal subjects are rarely the subject of editorials.


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.13