Because someone has toEveryone has likely heard the analogy of a tree falling in the forest absent a person to hear it or see it. Would it make a sound? Springboarding off this a little, I pose this question: If a person is egregiously wronged by individuals in power, will anybody hear them? Or does it take experiencing it for one’s self before empathy is invoked and the individual cries become collectively loud enough to hear? Perhaps even, too loud to ignore.

At what point does the surrounding community become cognizant enough to realize that what is wrongly done to the least in society is done to all of it?

I read somewhere once that if the desire to write is not followed with writing, then perhaps the desire may not be to write. It is a statement I have repeated over the years as an editor to people who think they want to contribute regularly to the Independent but find a deadline-driven environment a bit daunting.

I think that sometimes, a person may have within them a desire to express themselves in words and find, as all writers do, that the process is more involved than it sounds. One of my first editors at St. George News told me that she was convinced that everyone had one good column in them. But perhaps just one.

Since around 2011, I have published a column every week without fail almost and also a monthly column in the print edition of this publication. The rigor of it sometimes was cumbersome, and oftentimes I would find myself near deadline either not ready to publish a piece I was working on or simply not having anything in particular to say. It was then that I would employ some simple exercises I have picked up from teachers, editors, and mentors over the years. One effective method would find me sitting at the keyboard for what I affectionately term the “blind one thousand.” Begin writing with no particular topic mind until the word count was a thousand or more. Then stop. Print off the page and walk away.

After grabbing a cup of coffee and attending some other things for a bit, I then grab a highlighter and proof the page. Invariably and mostly without fail, there was something in there that would trigger the desire to write. Something perhaps that I had been discussing or thinking about during the last week that was not on the forefront of my mind but nevertheless there.

This is how I have stayed on top of the weekly and monthly column rigor, and I have come to contend that sometimes it may in fact be that the desire not to write at the moment is not necessarily indicative of not having anything to say but rather having much to say and needing a place to begin.

Take what you will from this musing, it has worked for me. And it is worth noting here that my brief hiatus from publishing articles was merely an unscheduled but much needed break to take a step back and regroup. And while I did not publish anything, I was still reading, taking notes and interviews, and engaging sources on the stories I have published and plan to follow up on as well as developing new ones.

A little while back, St. George citizen Harry Boyd emailed me to say, “While I do not always agree with your opinions, I enjoy your column a lot. Hope you will be writing again soon.”

Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Boyd. Here forward, you can look for my column here at the Indy on Mondays now as well as my print edition column.

Mr. Boyd’s was not the only correspondence I received. In my somewhat unscheduled interim break, we here at the Indy also were approached with attempts to strongarm our editorial process with threats of pulling advertising. Once such threat came about over a disagreement on a personal Facebook thread and was presented by an adjunct professor at Dixie State University. The other would come later from the administration of the school asserting that their willingness to advertise with the Indy would be contingent upon limiting what I wrote about the them.

It has long been a curious observation of mine that what many in this community fail to comprehend is that they are protected by the First Amendment, not from it. I’ll be revisiting this in future stories, but for the moment, consider our answer here at the Indy to be a collective and resounding no. We will not be strongarmed by anyone. Period.

Much of the other correspondence I refer to has been what I will call a growing chorus of individuals who have found themselves on the receiving end of many of the egregious machinations perpetrated by people in power in this community. Their individual voices wield little influence in the ears of those who could do right but choose not to. Their stories oftentimes bear striking resemblances to the others, and it is becoming a rising tide of sorts. I for one hear you. All of you. And I intend to be a voice for you.

I have referred to this Hunter S. Thompson quote often in my tenure here as a writer and it seems more apropos than ever to repeat it yet again.

“I want to make a promise to you, the reader. And I don’t know if I can fulfill it tomorrow, or even the day after that. But I put the bastards of this world on notice that I do not have their best interests at heart. I will try and speak for my reader. That is my promise. And it will be a voice made of ink and rage.”

I am well rested. I am well informed. I am back. Bastards beware.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.

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