Navigating rain, fog and slippery canyon turns at 7 in the morning, all the while composing a post in my head about always saying to others how they make us feel, my hearing picks up a brief news item, wafting out of the radio: Apple has agreed to drop the New York Times from their app store in China in exchange for market access. This news bothers me and interrupts my stream of thoughts.
Once I came home from work, I looked into the matter a bit more in-depth and, while it is not as clear-cut that Apple blocked the Times in order to keep on selling their wares like crazy to Chinese youth, I still composed a brief email to Tim Cook to voice my displeasure. While not a Sino expert who could possibly opine on the merits of a Western-style democracy in China, what is the point of being the richest company in the world if you can’t leverage your wealth to stand up for what you believe in? Like free access to reliable information?
My very first letter to the editor was written at age 17. My father and I had opposing political views and read very different newspapers. Because the one he read was edited by a brilliant journalist with a lot of integrity who happened to think differently than I did, I would read some of the op-eds. One of them must have prompted me to write, although I have no memory of what caused my indignation. I did send the letter, handwritten, and never received a reply, nor was it ever published.
In the last few years, I have ramped up my “letters to the editor”, mostly in the form of emails, to either physical publications, websites or political figures. I am well on the way to becoming that crotchety old lady who will spend her retirement days writing to all and sundry, being routinely ignored. Mostly, I still receive answers, even if stock ones, because people have figured out that ignoring customers or constituents is bad business practice. But does my writing achieve anything? Or is it just a burden I lift off my shoulders, the proverbial pebble I dislodge from the shoe to then keep on walking?
There is clearly strength in numbers. The more people come together and voice the same opinion on one issue, the more likely the recipient of the criticism will cave in. I see voicing my opinion on a par with exercising the right to vote. Acquiescence and resigned acceptance are not the best friends of freedom and democracy.
I suppose there could be worse ways to spend my retirement than badgering people in power. In the meantime, waiting to hear from Mr. Cook.