In January of 2015, I started this site, chartwellwest.com, because I had a few things to say and nowhere to say them. The journey it took me on wasn’t at all what I expected. Over the last 600 days or so, I published 75 essays about politics and American society. They weren’t light fare. They were long data driven essays of historical context or contrarian opinions about current events. If you compiled them into one offering, it would be a book 525 pages long.
Like I said, I had a few things to say.
During that time the site was visited almost a 120,000 times. Thousands have signed up to follow it. I’m not internet famous, but for dense data driven content about politics, I’m told that’s a bunch-more interest than I ever would have imagined. And more words too…
It begs the question, how does one write that much in the margins of their life?
The answer is pretty easy. Your thoughts aren’t the margins of your life. The things you care about and people you desire to reach and leave a path to follow aren’t the margins of your life. Everything else is. I just chose to put it all down-go on the record, so to speak.
The times have provided me with a lot to think about. If you were going to start to write on things that matter in America, January of 2015 would be a hell of a time to start. I’ve taken on gun violence and the Second Amendment, race, the economy, employment, Black Lives Matter, urban decay, transgender issues, Bernie, Donald, Hillary, President Obama and elections-even abortion. I tried to keep it as objective as I could, guided by data, context and the passion of human decency and kindness. Yes kindness. There’s a place for kindness in the discussion. I promise.
I’ve learned one powerful thing-more then one really, but one worthwhile at summing it all up. It’s this. When it comes to politics and social principles, you can’t change anyone’s mind with your words. If they’ve decided to identify with one group or another, your words won’t change them. That group is their home. It’s a manifestation of how they view themselves. Words are poor agents for change in the hearts of people. But if, like Kant said, you come across someone able to rid themselves of their self imposed nonage-the inability to use one’s own understanding without guidance-then those people are on the journey to enlightenment. And if you wander into them on the road to Damascus and you don’t try to tell them what to think-but instead what to think about, you may make a difference. Even the slightest difference, that pause to think when perhaps they would have just reacted, that urge to speak up when someone else is declaring a flawed reality, is all you can hope for. Sometimes people just need permission to think about something differently. So I tried to give it.
That’s the point. Making that difference is the point. Nothing else really matters.
During the last 20 months or so, I’ve found a particular passion in writing to empower the two communities for which I am a permanent part of-veterans and special needs families. Membership in these two groups define my family and I like no other parts of life. So that’s where I’m going to spend most of my words on the next leg of this journey. This site, Chartwell West isn’t going anywhere. It will stay up for as long as I’m around-130 thousand words or so focused on important things for important times. If something comes up that is important enough to weigh in on, I’ll take it on and post it here. I’m not done. Just shifting.
As for the election-the person who the American people choose to lead our government will have my support-even Donald. That’s just how I’m wired. If they do well, we do well. And I don’t care about anything else. My vote goes for the only candidate I could look my kids in the eye and tell them about. I’ve made that clear in past writing. And I know what that means in the grand scheme of the results. I’m not naive. I’ve just unburdened myself from that particular brand of nonage. You should try it. It’s powerful.
So what’s next?
Well, I’ve been a few places and seen a few things and I’ve got some stories to tell. Some folks have taken note of how I might be able to tell them by following this site and I’ll be working on that for the next year or so. You’ll also be able to find some of my new blogging work at www.care4us.org. It’s under the BLOG section. Check it out and follow it. It’s a new site that will support the organization my wife and I founded here in San Diego County helping special needs families. It’s an absolute good. I hope you like it and share it.
Chatwellwest.com has been a transformational experience for me. If you were one of the many who read this work and supported me with kind words and encouragement, I thank you. If I angered you by challenging the logic of your views, then that’s an accomplishment too-albeit unintended. I like to think that I did it without ever once challenging you or your right to your views. Not what to think…what to think about. That’s the trick.
Ghandi told me-well not me directly, but someone- to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I want to see change in the world for special needs families and vets.
He was pretty smart at the whole change thing so I’m taking his advice.
And so it begins.