Whatever Do You Mean?

Whatever do you mean, David Hunter, by “the vanities review?” Is it about your own vanity?”

It’s a fair question. On more than one occasion, over more than 23 years as a columnist, angry readers have accused me of being aloof and arrogant, which can also be rendered “vain,” but my title comes from the English Standard Version of the bible, Ecclesiastes 1: “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

The International Version of the bible translates it this way: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Traditionally, King Solomon, who was said to be the wisest man who ever lived, has been given credit as the author of Ecclesiastes. Solomon as the author however has been hotly debated by scholars who say the book was first written in Aramaic then translated into Hebrew, which would date the book around 600 years after Solomon.

Do you see how quickly something most of us were taught from childhood, suddenly becomes all muddled by varying points of view? Very often the “all is vanity” line is used as an example of utter despair, written by someone ready to give up on understanding what the world is really about, but I don’t see it that way.

A modern proverb says, “We all have a right to an opinion. But none of us have a right to our own facts.” Even facts, however, are slippery things. Once it was thought that an eyewitness was the strongest evidence that could be presented in court, but it is not true.

When I was at the state police academy being trained and certified as a police officer, we were shown a short film of an armed robbery in progress almost daily, including the hour before a final exam. Most of us would have bet our paychecks as to how well we knew the details of that film.

As it turned out, not a single officer got every detail right and some of us couldn’t remember if the robber used a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol which is a very important detail for people who are often first on the scene.

I’ve called this blog “The Vanities Review” because I know how quickly stories can become almost totally different events when viewed through various points of view – especially when edited through a political lens.

“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Is the message we get after a few days of debate on an event. So welcome to my review of the ordinary stories I read about or maybe even experience. I’ll try to keep it interesting.