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Still Sad And Upset, I Try to Relearn How To Write In A Vastly Altered New World

I used to know how to write.

Sure, I have written a lot about Lehigh football, the Patriot League, the NFL, and whatever else I damn well please over the course of the last fourteen or more years.  Maybe I didn't write particularly great all the time -- but sometimes, maybe more by accident than by design, the writing turned out OK.

But the one constant was that I wrote.  I'd sit in front of the warm glow of the laptop monitor and write.  I'd start in the bedroom, before my tired wife would kick me out and I'd write on the laptop in the office so that the clicking of the keys didn't irritate her.

What I did know how to do was to put my face in front of the laptop and write about the sports subjects that interested me.

But these last few months, I've found it harder to come up with the energy to come up with posts every week.  Since it's the offseason, I've got some time to try to analyze it and think it through, and I think I've come up with a few reasons why.

If there is one simple answer to the question, it is: today's world.

Lehigh Football Nation was never meant to be more than a place to express my point of view on topics I cared about.

By design, it was not meant to be limited to Lehigh football, even though Lehigh Football is right there in the title.

If I feel like writing about the Red Sox breaking the Curse, I can.  If I am possessed to write about the ecstasy of the Saints beating Peyton Manning's Colts in the Super Bowl, something that was also a lifetime in the making, I could.

The power of a blog is that the restrictions are none.  As blogging gets eclipsed in some ways by "mainstream paid digital media", I think we forget the power of being your own editor, which is still firmly the way when it comes to blogging.

I can write about what I want, with as many words as I want, and I can choose to use the word "shit", or not.  I can use the word "ain't" and I can make my paragraphs as long as I want, my sentences as long as I want, and I don't even need to adhere to the rules of grammar if I don't want to.  The lack of an editor when doing this is at once powerful, and also means one must develop a huge sense of self-control when writing.  (Folks that have read any of my three part Lehigh football game previews might laugh at the words "self-control" and "LFN blog posts" in the same sentence, but I digress.)

If there is one overarching theme of Lehigh Football Nation, it's that it was meant to be a place that's entertaining.  I don't necessarily shy away from some tough topics, but I try to keep the focus on football, Lehigh, sports, the Patriot League, or some combination of all of those things.  It's not meant to be a lightning rod for controversy.

But on November 8th, everything changed.

Don't deny it; whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, whether you love him or loathe him with every fiber of your being, everything changed.

Behavior that once felt like givens - treating women with respect, operating you work and home life ethically, having a fundamental sense of compassion for others, while tweaking opponents, show a certain respect of difference of opinion - seems like it has been upended.

It still seems to me outrageous that we now live in a society where this type of behavior isn't some sort of agreed-upon consensus.  But it's not, and it's affected every level of discourse in the United States, from social media posts to message boards to discussions with your neighbors and family to conversations in the supermarket.

"The more people you love, the weaker you are"
People these days are quick to blame the tools for the poison that has infected our society, as has been the case since the beginning of civilization.  But I honestly don't blame Twitter or Facebook for the coarsening of culture; culture has been coarsening for decades, and Twitter and Facebook are simply reflection the coarsening that has been happening for years.  Eventually, a society that secretly enjoys Game of Thrones are going to have people that start to act like that in their discourse.

The vote on November 8th is at once the cumulation of the coarsening of our culture, and a repudiation of many things I thought to be self-evident.

For example, I didn't think we lived in a society devoid of compassion for refugees coming to the country (the vast majority of them women and children) from war-torn areas.  Trump's executive order which had the effect of cruelly turning innocent people away at airports sickened me, and still sickens me today.  It is literally the polar opposite of what I think America stands for.

I also didn't think we could have a politician that can actively say something that is so unbelievably untrue that it is impossible to even consider, like promising the return of coal and steel jobs.  Another steel mill will never re-open in Bethlehem.  Steel jobs will never return here, no matter how much Donald Trump promises that they will.  Steel is a global industry, and long, long ago the cruel realities of the global steel industry helped crush Bethlehem Steel.  All that's left now is the husk, owned by Sands Casino, and it will never forge steel ever again.

I also didn't think that this week's decision by Trump to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, something that the vast majority of Americans, politicians, and business leaders of Fortune 500 companies wanted to continue, would be something even remotely considered when it comes to governing the business of the country.  I don't feel like I'm a person that thinks we need to combat climate change above all else, but I honestly don't see any compelling economic, moral, or practical argument for pulling us out, and it appears to screw America out of being in the driver's seat in a huge, global industry that will only get bigger over the rest of our lifetimes.  It costs us nothing to stay in, and lead.  To me, by pulling out, America looks like a bunch of cowardly idiots, ignoring a very profitable reality.

I know better than most that facts can be wielded in debate as weapons, and, yes, Democrat strategists get Democratic facts and Republican strategists get Republican facts.  But photographs of an inauguration are not Republican facts, or Democratic facts.  They're just pictures.  More than anything, these pictures are not matters of debate.

I don't bring all this up to enter into a political food fight but to illustrate the reaction the new realities of the world have had on me.  You may disagree with me on one, or all, of my above opinions.  But the fact I hold these opinions, and the fact the country to me appears to be going in the polar opposite direction, is something that troubles me on a daily basis.

Last July, the most important thing I had to think about or write about is how the upcoming season was going to go for Lehigh football.  Political debates were political debates, compartmentalized away and seemingly not all that relevant to my life since Trump (I thought, perhaps foolishly) was going to lose anyway.

But now he's here, and he's changing America in a way I feel is for the worse.  And that affects my writing.  That affects my focus on talking about Lehigh sports.

It means I, like a lot of folks, spend way too much time on my Twitter feed watching for the latest Trump lunacy to hit Twitter, sometimes weighing in on the @LFN Twitter account if it feels germane to something Lehigh fans might care about, other times reacting on my personal Twitter account instead.

Pres. John D. Simon
Trump's actions have had a deep, profound affect on higher education in particular.  The immigration ban affects which international students can come to Lehigh, and President John D, Simon, like other college presidents, have made statements about it.

"The free flow of students and scholars across borders is essential to the scholarly activity of our university, and international engagement remains an integral component of our mission of teaching, research and service," said a message from Simon, Provost Patrick Farrell and Vice President of Finance and Administration Patricia A. Johnson.

One thing that has encouraged me over these last six months is reading the fantastic work by the kids at the Brown and White, who, in the last six months, have consistently put out excellent work in these changing times.  They've done a fantastic job keeping things on topic, making sure they relate to the Lehigh community, and told me things I didn't know.

But that's just it: like many others, I watch Twitter and read boatloads from the Brown and White, New York Times, Washington Post, Morning Call, Express-Times, and even, on occasion, from sites I don't agree with or much like.

It's important to read great writing and great reporting.  But I, like many, have been reading and reading and reading a lot, without contributing back the amount I've been consuming.  I feel like it's become a sort of addiction - something I do that prohibits me to do important work, which, to me, is defined as my own writing of books or LFN blog posts.

Like the meme in the bumper, my sadness about the current world becomes a form of addiction, addicted to waking up and watching the latest bit of common decency to be upended, to tweet about Trump's latest retreat from the rest of the planet.  I can't let my sadness wreck my writing.  I cannot let that happen.

So today I just got on here, and remembered how to write, simply by staring at the blank page, and just pouring out my soul onto it.  I'm hoping by doing so it will get me re-focused towards what I do best.  As ever, I'm hoping for sanity to return to the world.  And I'm also hoping that watching Washington, DC burn doesn't prevent me from writing.  I can't let that happen.


Anonymous said…
The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, ...
Anonymous said…
Hang in there.
I'll get by. It's my kids I'm worried about.
Keep writing.
Tedly said…
Hang in there.
I'll get by. It's my kids I'm worried about.
Keep writing.
allen said…
it could have been much, much worse, hil-liar-y may have been elected
Anonymous said…
we suffered an 8 year nightmare under Obama.
Trump is a breath of fresh air
Chuck, forget the politics and stick to what you know, football.

For example tell us how Shafnisky is doing
Anonymous said…
Several knowledgeable observers cite evidence that strongly indicates Donald J. Trump may be the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Allen said…
let's stick to football
Anonymous said…
Who can focus on football when The Rapture is so near?
Anonymous said…
like I said, lets get back to football
Anonymous said…
Looks like you took down my post...
Anonymous said…
Trump is an idiot, an insane idiot Anybody who thinks otherwise is ignorant of the way he acts and thinks.
Anonymous said…
That's nitpicking!
LUHawker said…

Chuck, you have always dropped a little political innuendo into your writing over the years, and for the most part, we could look past it. Your leanings were clear, but tolerable. This, however, puts you in a new category. Maybe there is a spot for you at MSNBC or CNN or the NYT or Washington Post that you could pursue. But after this latest post of petulant drivel, I think you've tarnished your well-earned reputation for Lehigh and FCS football. If you were one of those immature college kids that needed a "safe place" to cry and wear your safety pins after Trump won, I might give you a little leeway, but you're not. You're a well-educated, adult male, that is still acting (and writing about) how you think the world changed and ended for you on November 8, literally over 7 months ago. The problem is, Chuck, you were only listening and seeing what you wanted to and weren't paying attention to the changes that were happening. Or perhaps, just hoping those changes weren't really happening. I'm glad you mustered the courage to write again, and I hope you stick to Lehigh football and the like, but please, please, get over your self-righteous indignation of the current political environment. What you fail to realize is that for 8 years, there was a whole other half of the country that was having Obama's changes rammed down their throats. I suspect, you never considered those folks when you were cheering on O. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, you just can't possibly believe its happening. Newsflash: grow up and stop pitying yourself and more importantly, stop pretending the world changed and is coming to an end. Cycles happen in life, politics and the world. You should know this. The sun will rise in the East and set in the West; now get back on the horse and start writing about Lehigh football.
Anonymous said…
It makes me sad to read LUHawker's post. Chuck has done a terrific job over the years in providing commentary and analysis on Lehigh's sports programs; especially football. For an alumnus like me - who graduated years ago, and lives far from Bethlehem - Chuck's reports give valuable and timely insight about the Lehigh athletics program that I followed diligently while on campus, and loosely ever since.

President Trump is a polarizing figure to be sure. If you get a chance, it's really interesting to read the Penn alumni magazine - Penn can't figure out whether to celebrate or deny the very existence of President Trump; the first Penn grad to become president of the US. While I didn't really support Trump during the election (and I supported Hillary even less), I hope - for the good of the country - that he succeeds.

Chuck - I appreciate your efforts in maintaining the sports commentary on LFN. Keep up the good work.
Anonymous said…
LUhawker, very well said
Anonymous said…
Trump is a LIAR. How can you possibly defend the fact that you voted for a pathological liar? Things certainly have changed, and I hope this country is not destroyed because of it. As far a MSNBC is concerned they have brought attention to may scary facts about the idiots that are in the white house. All the conservative people do is deny and lie. Everybody should realize that Trump lies about everything. Regardless of anything else, having a liar in the White House is a gross threat. I love Lehigh football and I am proud to be a graduate of Lehigh. I'm embarrassed however that LUhawker is an alumnus.
Anonymous said…
If You Don't Want A Liar You Should Thank The Stars That Hil Liar _Y Didn't win
Anonymous said…
i really like football .
thank for sharing.'

gclub online
Timothy said…
I'm a Fordham guy and I love LFN. It's the best site for PL FB. I have even taken on LU as my 2d favorite team. It's good to read writing from someone who is so knowledgeable about sports, but also has a mind that is capable of reasoned reflection. Thanks.
Timothy said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerard Meagher said…
You run a first class service for those who love Patriot League football. You are an intelligent man and are certainly entitled to your political opinions. There are others who are intelligent who support President Trump. I am one, I think. Two things motivate me. One, the increasing number of freeloaders in this country encouraged by Dems who promise more FREE stuff. Two, a nation without borders is not a nation.
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