Essentially, and I've never thought of this before, I'm not just a writer so much as a professional thinker. When I write, or interview, or teach, or consult - I'm tapping into creative and innovative thinking. That's why, when I was asked to take on this particular job and was invited to do "research", I was clear from the outset that my role would be broader - that of "consultant."
It's the distinction between merely copying data and creatively processing information. When I'm doing research I'm not simply downloading facts; what I'm actually doing is running the details through a filter comprised of my raw grey-matter (IQ), my creative thinking, my experience, my unique view of the world, my spiritual journey, my years as an educator, my life as a father and husband, my analytical skills, my signature writing style and my relationship with the individual who brought me on board.
But - lest you think I'm aggrandizing myself here - this is what we all bring to matters of news, conversation, opinion, "fact" and social commentary. We bring the cumulative weight of our lives and - most importantly - the experiences and relationships we have had along the way.
That's why it's both useless and dishonest when we limit ourselves to parroting what we hear other people say when it comes to important issues. We should listen to those views, certainly, because what we hear on the radio, learn from other people, and read on-line are unavoidable pieces of the puzzle - but it's critically important that we run the information through the filter of our own consciousness and experience, and that we are questioning in the process.
Let's be thinking, discerning, discriminating and thoughtful consumers of information and opinion. America works best when it's citizenry is not only informed, but takes ownership of the opinions and judgments it uses to back up its decisions.