Paul Greenberg

I made this list, Dear Reader, to remind me of some things I keep forgetting. It occurred to me that others might forget them on occasion, too. So here they are, with my compliments:

Don't worry so much. Heck, don't worry, period. Worrying is an attenuated form of atheism. Do your best and then let Somebody Else handle it.

"Step lightly; do not jar the inner harmonies." -Satchel Paige.

A man's never learned as much as he thinks he has. He also may have learned the wrong things. The truly wise are those capable of telling the difference, and maybe even unlearning some things.

Life is just full of surprises. To quote my favorite philosopher, Fats Waller: "One never knows, do one?"

Always show good will. If it is not reciprocated, nothing is lost. If it is, celebrate. Contrary to Machiavelli, it is better to be loved than feared, at least in personal relations. Nations are something else; they have interests, not friends.

"Life is a narrow bridge. The most important thing is not to be afraid." -Reb Nachman of Breslov, who also said: "If you believe you can damage, then believe you can repair." Instead of contemplating our sins, why not make up for them? It can be done. That's what We the Guilt-Ridden forget. Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" starring E. Scrooge should be read the year 'round.

Here's another gem from Reb Nachman: "Seek for the merit in others, even the tiniest shred. Then do the same in yourself."

Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive, latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mister In-Between.

I've regularly been taught what writing opinion ought to be about. But as Dr. Johnson said, we need to be reminded more than taught. I just need to remember what I've learned. Such as:

"When you're sure you're right, forget caution." That's about the wisest thing a publisher ever told me. It ranks up there with something another wise publisher once told me: "The best editorials appeal to the community's own standards - while raising them." Which is a neat trick, but the only one really worth doing in an editorial.

The real winner of any debate, win or lose, is the one who raises its level.

"The best editorials articulate what everyone knows but no one has ever said before." -William Allen White.

Make the phone call. Silence is the worst response. Except in response to insults. Let things pass. You might be surprised how they right themselves if ignored long enough. Time may not heal but it certainly softens.

"Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried." -Henry David Thoreau. New Englander or not, he must have been a Southerner at heart.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.