Granddaddy to today's political bloggers, Utne describes Stone as differing from most bloggers of a political bent by ". . . doggedly reporting and carefully crafting his essays, valuing insight over invective, and elevating the dialogue rather than reducing it to predictable partisan jousting."
To back up for a moment, I learned in the Utne article that I. F. Stone was an independent newspaperman and owner of his own publishing company. He accepted no advertising. He published a political newsletter, I. F. Stones Weekly, from 1953-1971. Although circulation was small, his weekly essays were considered highly influential, covering his take on journalism, and the watershed U. S. events such as the McCarthy hearings, school integration, campus protests etc. Utne included several of these essays in the Nov/Dec issue.
In reading through Stone's essays, I was struck by two things. His words still reverberate in timely relevance several decades later. His strong opinions reflect an openness and willingness to both scrutinize and to understand. What may sound like an oxymoron, in my opinion Stone demonstrated strong courage in looking "under the covers," to speak with substance, without pushing a blind agenda. (Editor Karl Weber includes Stone's finest essays in the book, The Best of I. F. Stone.)
I was a freshman in college during the Kent State Shootings, attending school a hundred miles away. I read with special interest Stone's essay, "In Defense of Campus Rebels." He spoke out against the methodology, but provided insightful perspective on the underlying intention of the protesters, citing past historical context from other non-political movements.
But hey, I'm not here to talk about politics per se. To do so is to miss the larger point. I. F. Stone set a high standard we would do well to emulate. And it is this. To use our blogging forums to illuminate the conversation. To expand understanding and meaning. In short, to BE the substance the world needs, and allow our voice to reflect that.
I didn't say it was easy to speak openly, honestly, truthfully. Some days I can't find the time to blog. Some days I can't hear my own voice. Some days I'm feeling timid. And some days I just can't stand not to speak up. I'm still learning to give myself permission to show my strength - to let my "substance" out. And be damned with whatever gets "thrown" at me.
It's much easier to hang out with like-minded individuals who share similar political/spiritual/social views than to take the time to listen and to understand what fears or motivations underpin an "opponent's" view.
But one thing I will say emphatically, with all its political connotations, thank God American voters decided Tuesday that substance matters.
For those of us who care - I throw down the gauntlet. Let us begin with ourselves.
Show me the substance!