Shared opinion about “free advice”.
Observation & Opinion By L.E.Taylor
When I first addressed the notion of writing a weekly article and then actually posting it for public consumption, I was daunted by the responsibility. And the risk. The whole idea, for me, was not for narcissistic exposure, but was simply an exercise in thinking and writing. In that order.
I finally decided it would be good practice, sort of like daily finger exercises for a pianist, so why not?
Of course, I’d be writing about things I care about subjectively, so as always, I drafted some guidelines in the form of a note to myself. Here are the top five:
- No partisan politics. There’s already a glut of more heat than light on that important, but often counter-productive, market.
- A forum. Encourage thoughtful conversation among readers. Some of these would be friends, or would become friends; some would appear as sojourners, moved to reach out in good will.
- Worthy content. Comment on cultural matters – e.g., the arts, especially writing and film; societal issues that would benefit from congenial banter; remembrances of my personal experiences; and random observations for amusement and stimulation.
- Keep it brief. I started out trying to limit my scribbling to four hundred words. Good luck with that.
- Humility. Respect the intelligence and perspectives of a universe of readers who arrive with whole treasuries of their own, derived from histories no less interesting or valid than mine.
And so on.
Regarding Point Five – this cautions against imposing free advice. I have learned the hard way that such a commodity is often worth every penny. But there’s another side to it.
Recently, I have been notified my two separate friends (actual “friends,” not the Facebook kind) that their households have been invaded by the terrifying specter of cancer. This is a delicate matter. And I do know a little about it. However, much of what I “know” is the result of personal experience and the digging I’ve done as a layman to learn about new alternatives that might complement excellent mainline medical practice.
What should I say to tormented people I care about?
My first response is to offer prayer through my network of “Prayer Warriors.” These are believers of multiple Judeo-Christian denominations, as well as a number of good people with no formal religious traditions at all.
But I also have opinions. In particular, leanings that inform the age old question, “WWLD?” (Get it?) What Would Larry Do?
Well, there are certain things that I’ve already done. And others that I’ve witnessed; some that worked, others that have not – in traditional medical practice, and among the “alternative” regimes. Both.
So, just this morning, I came across an interesting essay by a gifted young investigative writer, Rebecca Furdek. She suggests that the matter of giving colloquial advice is a free speech consideration.
Understand, Ms Furdek is not in favor of muddying the waters with a lot of half-baked palaver; in fact, she points out it isn’t necessary – the professional options are out there for all seekers to access for informed decision-making.
No need to volunteer advice over the back fence about treating cancer, or investing in gold, or how to cure male pattern baldness. The issue, she says, is not whether conversation is in order or misguided. The worry is, instead, a pernicious regulatory “creep” that is placing quasi-legal constraints on even talking about such matters.
Have a look at her fascinating findings at Townhall.com. That is, if you want to. I’m just going to say my prayers and shut up about it.