Wednesday, December 4, 2013

boundary issues

I had another one of 'those' emails today. Let me explain what I mean.


I have quite a number of letters published in the papers each year. I also write a few articles that manage to make it into print. I see it as being par for the course that not everyone will agree with what I have to say. But I take it as the understood 'etiquette' that those who take issue with me confine their mode of communication to the original forum. For example, if I have a letter in the Times, I expect responses to it to appear in the letters columns of the Times, and not to receive letters through my door, or by email, if they manage to get hold of my address. And being a priest in parish ministry, my contact details aren't too hard to get hold of. 

Most respect this. Not everyone does. Those who don't broadly tend to fall into three categories:

1. They don't like what I have to say - and who do I think I am, as a man, priest, whatever to dare open my mouth on this issue? Or, as I have not written on a litany of other topics they think I should have, I have no right to write on this one;
2. they may or may not like what I have to say; but as I'm clearly someone who has the ability to get the occasional thing published, I should put my talents to better use - that is the causes they think important and they urge me to do so; and they enclose a helpful list of suggested topics;
3. they like what I have to say; in fact my cause is a cause dear to their hearts; and because of that they are sure I will want to read the pamphlets they have enclosed, perhaps buy the (self-published) book they have written on the subject, and especially donate generously to the group they have set up; for which they have enclosed a direct-debit form so I can do so easily and quickly.

Strange as you may find this to believe, most of these I ignore, consigning what they have sent me to the 'circular file' which is handily kept in the corner of my office near my desk. 

There is the rare exception. Occasionally I get a straight letter, complimenting me on what I have done and asking nothing whatsoever of me other than I keep doing what I'm doing. I replied to one such letter and am now good friends with that person. In fact, if I have achieved nothing else with my letter writing than this person's friendship, I consider my labours to have been worthwhile. So it's not all bad, I suppose!

And the moral of the story is? No moral at all; simply this is what those who 'put their heads above the parapet' can expect. And if the idea of that bothers you, then don't get involved in the first place!

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