Merry Christmas to all, and a curious new year

Craig Hall

Holiday wishes will appear. But not until after I address a personal issue that arose after my column was published in the last issue. 

I got a call from a friend about cancelling his subscription. Granted, his subscription was ending at the end of the year. One way or the other, the timing was perfect related to the column and this matter. I know this because I do all the subscription billing — albeit tardy and a little scattered. But I actually know when most subscriptions are coming due. Either that means I am kinda smart or need way more subscribers. Regardless, I’m glad my friend called. 

I want readers to know this is a gentleman for whom I have the greatest respect. He helped me at some of the lowest points of my separation and divorce and stayed in touch with me off and on during my recovery. As friendships go, ours evolved to the point in which he sought my counsel on matters of concern to him. He has a genuine concern for our community, is a man of faith and — obviously — not afraid to get into the mire and speak his mind. Gee, it’s no wonder we hit it off. 

He called me to speak his mind.
For those who don’t know me as well, it’s one of the reasons I write. I truly enjoy the conversations I have with folks who take the time to call or write. Well, most of them. More than a few are simply folks ranting and, yes, yelling at me for stating my opinion in an opinion column. Selfishly, it’s good for a writer to know they’re being read. That said, a healthy, public debate is a good thing. Especially when the public is being abused like it is today by our leaders. 

But I digress. 

Now back to the phone call and why it’s stayed with me the past two weeks. It’s the why in why he wanted to cancel his subscription. He said I went too far this time. In my defense, I acknowledged in my column the questions I asked might be “harsh, sarcastic or over the top.” I also know, as most of you know, much of my writing is layered with sarcasm. While it’s a talent, I really need to work on it going forward. And just what was over the top, you ask? One word: hydroxychloroquine. A word, according to the top men in charge of our disastrous COVID-19 pandemic response, we dare not speak.

If you’re me, you know that’s for a good reason — in this case a good, really bad one. 

While my friend and I spent a good amount of time talking about that word, one thing was missing in our (and those yelling) phone call: questions. In case you don’t recall, the headline of my last column was: The roads less traveled are the questions never asked. 

I love questions. And believe me, I question EVERYTHING said to me. Literally everything. As soon as the sound hits my ears, my brain is already looking at the topic from the opposite point of view. It’s asking where the holes are. It wants to know who, what, when and where this information came from. It’s how my brain works. And on the dark side inside my head is the other question: Why? 

While I got my friend’s why, what I never got was why the why from his point of view. And why the why was dismissed regarding mine. Every reference from my end was met with the refrain stating no matter how much we talked, his mind wasn’t going to change. That’s what bugs me most. And, NO. It’s not because I couldn’t change his mind. Another reason I write is not so much to change people’s minds, but to open them. Why this is on my mind is not because I lost 25 bucks a year. For the record, this was about paying for mailing the paper, not stopping reading it. It was because I didn’t make my friend curious enough to look into what millions and millions across the planet have. If my friend had taken the road less traveled, I would have had answers and gladly given them. But the questions were never asked. 

Perhaps my inability to pique my friend’s interest is on me. Maybe I’m not writing convincingly enough or stoking curiosity as much as I’d hope. 

Ask my youngest — who has a VERY different world view than I do — what I always come back to in our many conversations. Get curious about the other side and why some think differently.
At least she finally accepts it’s a sensible thing to do. 

It’s my hope over the past 21 years I’ve helped many of you do the same. After all, the questions don’t stop on
Dec. 31, 2021. 

Stay safe, healthy and curious this holiday season. Thank you for making the Business Times an integral part of your life. 

In this season of giving, curiosity is a most precious gift. 

Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at 424-5133 or