Richard Haddad Interview
I CAME ACROSS THIS BLOG THE OTHER DAY WHEN RESEARCHING A TOPIC HAVING TO DO WITH RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE. I KNEW I HAD TO ADD THIS GENTLE MAN’S VOICE to the Saturday Salon community. As you explore Richard Haddad’s blog posts (click here to check out his blog posts), you may or may not agree with his stand on every issue, but that, after all, is the point of a Saturday Salon. His humanity comes through. Here are some of the thoughts he shared with me today:
Q: Has building community always been important to you?
A: Not until I started to grow up and have a family. As my wife and I nurtured our children we started to realize the powerful role community plays in shaping and strengthening lives. Good communities strengthen families, families strengthen children, strong children grow up to help build strong communities. There is no substitute.
Q: How did you do that before you started the blog?
A: I was fortunate to get involved in newspapers early in my career. Writing, editing and publishing in community newspapers allowed me to not only participate in building communities, but also helped me learn what makes a community work, and what erodes a community.
Q: How has blogging changed you?
A: I do not think blogging has changed me. It’s just another tool. Sometimes I actually worry about how effective blogging is compared to a printed product that is physically placed in front of people — like a newspaper or magazine — because the very nature in the printed product seems to give it more merit and credibility. I worry that the blogging world is so diluted it’s hard for readers to really locate and qualify what they are reading. There’s also the age-old idiom of, “Out of sight, out of mind.” So much good can be hidden within the intricate maze of the Web, like going to a restaurant with too many items on the menu. When overwhelmed with choices, people often select the meal they can see pictured on the menu in front of them.
Q: Has anyone changed your mind about an opinion or position you held?
A: Of course. Anyone who answers this question with a definitive “no” is not willing to listen to or consider other points of view. I sometimes think “changing your opinion” about something gets a bad rap in the United States. If a politician changes his or her position on an issue — whether through listening to constituents or from experience that indicates an old position isn’t correct — he or she can sometimes be labeled a Flip-Flopper. I respect a person who is willing to admit they needed to change their position if they were wrong. For this same reason I respect newspapers that are willing to publish corrections or retractions. When I see a newspaper that never publishes a correction I can’t help but think they are really just afraid to admit they made a mistake. This kind of an attitude wrongly moves a person or company’s emphasis from integrity to pride.
Q: What is the most valuable piece of advice other people who visit your blog have given to you?
A: I write about many issues, but one of my most passionate topics is doing what’s right for our children. It’s hard to select any one single submitted piece of advice, but a theme that is reflected in many of the comments from my readers is the power of example, whether it’s positive or destructive. One of my favorite quotes is from the late Jim Henson, Muppet creator and voice of Kermit the Frog: “[Children] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
Q: When was the last time you were able to sit down and have a really good talk with someone in person?
A: I try to do this every day. I am fortunate to have family and friends who still believe in face-to-face communication. With all the high tech communication tools available today for us to stay connected, I fear society is at risk of being more personally disconnected. Excessive cyberspace interactions can stifle or suffocate the kinds of personal, shared experiences we need to build communities and lasting, meaningful relationships. I don’t care how HD your device is, there is no digital substitute for face-to-face, eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice, spirit-to-spirit communication.
(As the creator of the Saturday Salon, which is all about person-to-person conversation – I couldn’t agree more!)
Q: What issues are most important to you right now, and what do you think can be done about them?
A: Building strong families. We live in a world in which the ever-swelling waves of political correctness threaten to erode the very foundation of the family unit. So many things that cause pain and sorrow for our children and society can often be traced back to an eroding family unit. I recall a short story I heard when I was a young man that illustrates this point:
A small boy tugs at his father’s pants as he reads the newspaper and asks, “Father will you play with me?”
The father says, “Not now, son. I’m reading.”
A few minutes later the boy tugs again, “How about now father?” he asks.
Frustrated, the father looks down on the coffee table and sees a magazine. He flips the pages and finds a picture of the world. The father tears the picture out and rips it into small pieces.
”Son, here is some tape. When you put this picture back together, I’ll play with you,” the father responded.
Thinking his son will now be kept busy for a while, the father starts reading again. But to his surprise the boy is tugging at his pants only moments later.
”I’m done, father. Now will you play with me?”
Amazed at seeing the picture repaired so quickly, the father asks, “Son, how did you do that so fast?”
”It was easy,” said the boy. “On the back of the picture was a picture of a family. I just put the family back together and the whole world fell into place.”