September 26, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

A long silence in the car, but it was not the dulling sort that makes you fidget and wish for time to fly because you are this and she is that and you no longer meet on common ground. Nor was the still moment the one that brings dreadful, souring stomach pain on that longest ride home after romance officially ends. No, it was the silence of best and enduring friendship, that which is as wonderfully normal and accepted by two as readily and in the same trust as the waterfall of words between them when that happens.
Friends come rarely to some, in droves to others, and any friendship has its degrees of depth and also its degrees of separation, that commonality that ties humanity together. The best gift of friendship is mutual trust.
In my life, the friends I have kept dear are no longer seen, but the moments that were are now on film in my memory, and I can roll them anytime the mood prompts. Conversations, a particular gesture, a laugh, revealing eyes that ask questions however unanswered, a scrunched nose — all can be revisited.
And the doors that were opened in those friendships, the ones you might never have walked through otherwise, are as unlocked as ever.
What an expanded person you can be after the being that you were wore the thoughts of another in a car ride, on a couch, somewhere in friendship. And, perhaps, vice-versa.
The only sadness is that you and/or the other may not realize what happened until time had taken you elsewhere. Yet you are still better for it, though regretful that your thanks was not originally spoken, and now it cannot be heard.
Maybe it is, in the silence that true friendship continues even in physical absence.

   The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via the


By Arthur H. Gunther III

Curiosity, we are warned, killed the cat, but the naysayers never tell you about the nine lives. There are other chances.

In the University of Higher Education that is life, you can earn a doctorate via Curiosity 101, 201, 301, 401. Curiosity was a welcome push for Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, who thought out of the box, who often applied barely basic skills of learning to journey, as Buzz Lightyear says in “Toy Story:” “To Infinity and Beyond.”

Einstein did poorly in school arithmetic and early math. Had he been the traditionalist, had he earned his gold star in calculus, he might have ended up a fine professor of that discipline instead of spending 10 years daydreaming about gravity and the speed of light and whether a fellow saw himself in a mirror the same way traveling through space as he would moored to earth. His e=mc squared formula might not have been written. And the world would be different, perhaps vastly less dangerous but also behind the times electronically, mathematically, in space travel, etc. The peaceful things.

Tom Edison endlessly tinkered in his lab, trying this and that out of curiosity more than straight applied science. Had he followed strict dictum, he and his people might have given up. If they had let curiosity kill the cat the first time out on light bulb filaments, there would have been no ninth life, no pushed inquisitiveness that found carbonized thread as the winner. And then there was light, literally.

Edward Hopper, the famed American realist painter whose works of solitude and intensity of emotion are so especially defining to the world right now, spent long months in utter curiosity, going to 1930s movies, peering out his Washington Square studio window, looking away from the sea at South Truro, Mass., walking Gotham’s streets and reaching into his mind’s file cabinet for human and architectural sketches squirreled away on so many trips of curiosity. From here and there, Hopper took what he needed, and when the time was right, he brushed in strokes of interpretation that make us shiver decades later.

So, I say to all of you, especially the young yet not spoiled by too many limiting rules: Go for it – be curious, day-dream, move to a different, unique place in your mind. Be independent, dare to “go to infinity and beyond.” This America, in particular, needs your innovation right now.

  The writer of this reprinted column is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via



September 11, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

In Germany, where the two world wars largely of that nation’s doing are old history to the present generation, there is still reminder of sadness in the town platz memorials to the dead and in the rebuilt cities. Yet there is also the deliberate mindset, “die vergessenen,” rationalization that there must be the forgotten.
It is explained that remembering the fallen, say on a national Memorial Day, would mean getting into the confusion of determining who fought for Hitler (or Kaiser Wilhelm) and who went off to war for family. Instead of such a day, the once-militaristic Germans largely focus on their present belief that war is a terrible thing, and both world conflicts buried too many — countrymen, enemies, blind followers of evil. It is a lesson learned through terrible moments and the obliteration of those in the Holocaust and those on the battlefield and those who suffocated at home in the allied bombing fires of Dresden and other cities when the full might of the war industry was brought to bear.
All nations — there are no exceptions — have pushed the “wrong wars,” as if there could be “right” ones, though the Allies’ response, 1939-1945, was necessary, even allowing that joint-nation action in the 1920s and 1930s might have stopped Hitler, Japan, Italy.
After tragedy — world war, the utter waste of young, even heroic life and the snuffing of promise in such needless battle as in Vietnam and now the conflicts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria — the thought is “never again.” Yet the keepers of that memorial flame are usually politicians, “leaders” who too often are misdirected by special interest or jingoism. Many offer patriotic salute on patriotic days, but it’s back to work in 24 hours, and unlike the heavy blanket of remorse and regret and guilt that is now the fate of a country like Germany, too many politicians in too many countries are ready to war again.
There are always reasons offered — “justification” — for such re-energizing of the war machine, even in nations that contend they are the peacekeepers.
On this day in America, the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001, there are no forgotten individuals. Every victim of the terrible tragedies must be mourned forever, be they ordinary citizens or firefighters, police, volunteers. Every one who died that day or after through developed illness is a heroic victim of inhumanity. Unlike those wrong individuals who sided with the Nazis, these people must not be forgotten. But the Germans, the non-Nazi Wehrmacht forced into war, must no longer be die vergessenen. Nor must the Viet Cong fighting for their nation. Nor must any person who became a victim of the leaders’ evil that is inherent in war.
As Dwight D. Eisenhower, the great war general but also the great peace-keeper of the 1950s said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
After war, after a terrorist attack, the horrible ones should not be given the dignity of being recalled. But those who suffered should never become the forgotten. Honoring them means to truly believe in “never again” by helping those who are in great need. To fail to do so is to bring more terrorism, more war.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via This essay may be reproduced.


Sept. 5, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

This is crazy time in America, though if you subscribe to the thought that things happen for a reason, maybe we will learn why. But Labor Day is supposed to be free of deep thinking, so I guess any of that should be on hold.
It’s a time for relaxation — beer, picnics, the beach, if the weather doesn’t Interfere on the American eastern seaboard. But even in the wet there can be celebration as friends, family get together. And, personally, I can have a beer just as well inside, so long as it’s strong.
On this day, please note that the American worker is quite productive, often the most producing fellow/gal of any nation. And that is true even as the U.S. has lost its factory blue collar stiff to the necessity of moving others elsewhere up the ladder but also to the bottomless, mindless greed of the 1 percent. Re-investment, re-tooling, re-training could have made for contemporary-era jobs and even more money for the people who, like all of us, can’t take the cash with them. Still could.
The American worker, and that surely includes some of the best of them — our immigrants in an always-immigrant U.S. — generally works on common sense because, well, they would not be productive without that. Profits are not made just by the suits in the front office, but largely by the sweat of the common worker.
And this democracy would not have endured without the American worker, for despite the idiocy of some political campaigns and all too many sub-standard candidates, the system has worked as the ordinary fellow/gal has chosen enough achievers.
So, on this Labor Day 2016, cheers for the American worker. As the walls that some would build — such as the metaphorical special-interest barrier protecting ever-deeper pots of gold — come closer to reality, U.S. labor will have to be on the job ready to tear them down and craft a river of common sense instead.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via