From the desk of Pamela Pritt, Editor of The Pocahontas Times.
Here's What I Think
Life is full of surprises.
And they come at the darndest times.
After 20 years at The Pocahontas Times, I’ll be leaving at the end of this week.
It’s been an adventure, to say the least.
From my internship here for six weeks to a part-time job, to becoming a full-time reporter, on to managing editor, and the final stop as editor, I’ve learned so much about so many things.
Sometimes I was astonished I got paid to have so much fun in a job. Sometimes the job was harder than I could imagine. Whether you know it or not, or believe it or not, stories that caused you grief, grieved me also; stories that made you rejoice, gave me joy, as well. Pocahontas County is my home. My hope is always that things here go well, that our people progress, that we can resolve our conflicts.
For those of you who counseled me, whose advice I sought—and some I didn’t—for those of you who took the time to let us know you appreciate the work we’ve done at The Pocahontas Times, for those of you who challenged me to do better and to be better, I am truly grateful.
I leave the newspaper in good hands, with Mountain Media owner Mike Showell. He’s building something pretty amazing, with four West Virginia newspapers now in his experienced hands.
So for the final time, here’s what I think: Be kinder to each other. Don’t allow people who are so full of self-loathing that they cannot love their neighbors have influence on how you feel about your neighbors. Everyone who lives here has some good in them, but as human beings, they also have their shortcomings. Don’t focus on the shortcomings of others, focus on the good and the good work that can be accomplished. It is so easy to destroy; it is much harder to build.
Remember – what we see in others more often than not exists in ourselves. And remember it when you find yourself listening to the diatribes of some people who think they have the right to interfere in everyone else’s life regardless of truth and regardless of potential damage.
Here's What I Think
Education—worth the risk
This brave Muslim girl’s name is now a household word, synonymous with the fight for equality in education for girls in a world where women are devalued as humans and treated as property by men.
Malala was so determined to be educated that she stood up to the Taliban, a terrorist group that uses force and bullying tactics to make people obey them. Malala was shot last week in her pursuit of education. It was that important to her.
Compare her to girls in our country, our state and even our county. Is education worth that much?
Oh, you bet it is.
Is it valued that much?
Education has been treated lately like its a necessary burden, not an opportunity. While lots of politicians purport to be in favor of better education, what they usually end up with is a plan that hampers or even punishes small rural and inner city schools, while rewarding schools in higher income areas where nutrition, unemployment and low median household income might not be huge factors percentage-wise. Those plans also generally hamper creative teachers who love their work and love their kids, turning those teachers into automatons who are mandated to teach the standardized tests so that the school will look like it’s performing well.
In my great-great-grandmother’s eighth grade math book (thanks, Mom, for saving that), word problems aren’t about two trains leaving stations at the same time and different speeds, but about practical matters like building brick walls. Grandma Ryder’s reading material was far above what eighth graders are offered today. My Granddad White only went to the eighth grade, but he could determine mathematically how much fertilizer and how much seed he’d need to produce a crop. My dad always said he learned as much about math from his father as he learned in high school. Practical, useful math that Dad used all his farming life. While there were no “standards” of learning in those days, students knew that they had to do better all the time, and they rose to the challenge with the encouragement of their parents.
What happened to the challenge of education? What happened to the understanding that obtaining a good education is the solid foundation on which we build our futures—our own, our children’s and our community’s? Has it been made so easy to get that we just don’t care about it anymore? Who would be willing to sacrifice themselves like Malala in pursuit of education?
In this country, we’ve decided to elevate certain professions, but denigrate others. Teachers spend more time with our kids than anyone else, why don’t they get paid more than professional athletes or actors? Why do people who would make great teachers go into other professions? The cost of education vs. the return on that investment, is one reason. Perhaps the lack of respect is another.
Teaching is a noble profession, and it’s not easy. How can it be? Classrooms full of students who think the person behind the desk is an enemy; parents who feel they must defend their kids against any sort of discipline; administrators keeping a careful eye on ever-dwindling budgets and those standardized test scores because they have to, all those things weigh heavy on teachers before they enter a classroom.
I spend some of my spare time analyzing the way women are portrayed in the media, and as professionals. Can it be a coincidence that most teachers are now women? Is that why it’s so easy to put the teaching profession on a back burner?
Our daughters and our sons are crying out for direction whether we know it or not. They want—they need—adults to be good leaders and good examples. They need to know education is important. They need to understand why Malala believed it was worth risking her life.
Here's What I Think
4-H memories still linger
“Mmhmm I want to linger
Mmhmm a little longer...”
The words to that old 4-H song do still linger from a time when those four clover leaves, the pledge, the projects and, oh, my, the camp were a big part of my life.
I was excited to join 4-H when I was eight-years-old. For some reason, I was elected secretary my first year (that was torture, but it turned out okay). I took sewing projects (also torture, those didn’t always turn out okay) and room improvement, yeast breads and what’s a farm kid to do? Pigs. The others turned out better. More on that later.
Loved the songs. Tried to live up to the pledge. But camp was the very best.
It seemed like there were several hundred campers then. I was in the Delaware Tribe, persuaded there from the family-traditional Mingos by fellow Minnehaha Brave Ellen Cauley. Got to say, she had it right.
So much to do at camp every day, and what fun it was. We made our beds every day and lined up for meals as straight as we could so that we could eat first. Intra-tribal sports and classes. Duties around the camp. Vespers. Council Circle where the Ishkatay lit the campfire and we challenged each other with stunts and songs and cheers. I learned much there from making hardtack, which I have never had to do again, to making plaster of Paris casts of animal tracks and leaves and on to yarn mop dolls and decoupage.
The Delawares and Mingos of the day traded “winning” the week year after year. But in all reality, just about every kid who spent the week in Thornwood won. It was that much fun.
We forged bonds with kids from other areas of the county, which became essential for us when we were finally ready to enter Pocahontas County High School. In fact, if I had to point to one reason my classmates were so “together” from beginning to end of our high school careers, it would be 4-H camp because there, we worked together with kids from every school in competition with kids from our own. We learned about each other, made friends—and lifetime friends, at that.
Oh, about those projects.
I earned pins for room improvement, yeast breads and pigs, and in fact, had the Grand Champion Bacon in 1973. The proceeds of that bacon sale paid for my room improvement project, right down to the painter and the material for the curtains and bedspread my mom made for me. I don’t think she charged for labor, but she should have. She turned the blue gingham material I purchased at the H-P Store into quite the grand room decor. (I know. I’d already had sewing in 4-H. Let’s just say there are some things I was too stubborn to learn.)
4-H taught us so much about life. Keep your head clear, your heart loyal, your hands in larger service and yourself healthy for better living. Good advice.
And go to camp.
Here's What I Think
Ever felt really lucky?
Me neither. At least most of the time.
But every now and then a lot of luck comes my way.
This story starts with my dog-loving oldest daughter, Amanda, who keeps an eye on the Humane Society of Pocahontas County’s Facebook page. She spotted a black retriever/lab/something small canine mix named Roxy and fell in love.
Now Amanda and her husband Nate already have two dogs—Ralphie, a Chocolate Lab, who is fondly referred to as a “noble beast,” and Flick, a Golden Retriever, who is also fondly referred to as a “wild thing.”
Roxy was listed as “urgent,” and to Amanda that meant certain death, so she begged Nate to adopt another dog. Nate, a man of reason, told her they just couldn’t have another dog in the house. (While this conversation was taking place, Flick was eating part of their dinner, even though it was against the wall of the counter in their kitchen.)
So, Amanda calls home in tears and wants me to go to the county animal shelter and take a look at Roxy.
I really didn’t think we had time to take care of a dog, but I went to the shelter and met this little black bundle of energy, took her for a walk and decided to think about it for a bit.
We talked it over at home—at length. There are indeed pros and cons to having a pet. Give a little love and get a lot back, for instance. Exercise whether you want to or not (that’s actually a pro). But then there are vet bills and mishaps (we once had a dog for 11 minutes, since we live beside Rt. 219) and the possibility of damage to personal items (she seems to like socks).
Ken told me I’d make the right decision. And I did.
We brought Roxy home on a Wednesday. She hasn’t been with us for two weeks yet, but she’s trained us pretty well. Out in the mornings by 6:30. She sleeps by our bed. We take an extra walk every day. She goes to church with us on Sundays so she can chase butterflies in the field in front of Mom’s house. She runs like the wind. But she also stands still for baths, has learned to sit on command and lead on a leash without pulling.
We changed her name to Lucky, because we think she is. But we really don’t know which of us is luckier, the dog or the family.
Lots of dogs like Lucky are housed at our county shelter. They, too, have potential to really love a new family.
If you can’t adopt, contribute. If you can’t contribute, volunteer. These animals, dogs and cats alike, are ready and waiting for a home. But they’ll also take some interim attention. The shelter is clean and well-managed and Robin Robertson seems to love them all, know them all by name and be truly happy and grateful when one of her charges gets to go home for good.
Ralphie and Flick got to meet Lucky this weekend. They were surprised to have their time with the “grandparents” cut into by a little black dog. Lucky was surprised to have a couple of giants wandering around in her space. But they got along okay.
Christmas, by the time we add in brother Doug’s Riley, a Yellow Lab, is going to go to the dogs. With a whole lotta love.
Here's What I Think
It’s been a decade since then-editor Bill McNeel wrote a county commission story that lauded Slaty Fork/Snowshoe area stakeholders for agreeing on a location for a sewage treatment plant that would serve the valley and the resort. Everyone agreed.
Not everyone. In the ensuing years, we’ve discovered just how little everyone agrees on this particular project. Two years ago, five area landowners, including Snowshoe Mountain Resort, filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission against the local public service district asking that the project be put into receivership.
Without going into the long, long history of this embattled project, it’s safe to say that now what we have are two sides who believe that they are infallibly right, that the other side lies for its own nefarious ends and that each side knows the wastewater treatment needs of the area better than the other, or anyone else, for that matter.
What we have is a quagmire. This issue has caused much angst for our county, and it’s cost us untold hundreds of thousands of dollars for no progress whatsoever.
It’s time to settle it.
The Public Service Commission should sit each side down, order binding arbitration and get it done forthwith. Clearly, we are not able to complete this project on our own. As sad as that is, it is undeniably true. A forced compromise is better than nothing at all.
We’ve waited long enough for an end to this mess, and we need one soon.
Here's What I Think
Lots of gratitude, Part II
Still a lot of grateful hearts around here in this post-derecho world. I think everyone in Pocahontas County finally got power back by Saturday, but there could have been a few remote spots in the Hillsboro ZIP Code that didn't have it again until Sunday.
A few more names have come across my desk, and there's a couple names I forgot to add to my list, so here they are:
Deputies Bradley Nelson, Damon Brock and Brian Shinaberry helped Sheriff David Jonese organize Red Cross meals in the Green Bank area. They also began welfare checks in the early post-storm hours. They were assisted by the National Guard later in the week.
Those meals were served at NRAO in Green Bank, where the day-to-day operation took place beside the emergency meals. Too many cooks spoil the broth, the old saying might go, but in this case, maybe another old saw, many hands make light work, might have prevailed. I can't imagine any Pocahontas County cooks in anybody's kitchen not helping out where it was needed. NRAO's Mike Holstine was most helpful in offering the observatory's facilities to people who needed power for their oxygen concentrators, and the dining hall for Red Cross meals.
And speaking of those meals, Melvin and Debbie Lindsey were great on this end of things at coordinating servers and deliveries for several days.
As for kids giving up their summer vacations, I failed to mention Madison Bennett, who helped out with serving in Marlinton, as well. Madison's a little quieter than some of the other kids, and I feel bad that I didn't mention her last week.
Courthouse employees and elected officials took their lunch breaks, evenings and a Saturday to help out with the meals, as well.
Good for everyone who worked together to get it done.
Here's What I Think
What a long, strange trip it's been. But we are on the road to recovery. By the time you read this, I hope that everyone in Pocahontas County has power, water and is back to normal.
We've learned a great deal during this disaster. We lost some things, but maybe we gained some.
We lost Internet, so we didn't have Facebook, but we had face-to-face communication. We lost connection with the outside world, but we regained some connection with our neighbors at places like convenience and grocery stores and the Huntersville Spring.
We lost some of the food we'd saved in our freezers, but we allowed our stubborn Appalachian selves to be fed by our neighbors in Bath County and got assistance from Highland County, too. That strengthened a bond between our mountain counties that no state line can diminish.
Maybe some of that getting to know our neighbors again in line at the spring, or on porches, or checking on each other, or delivering meals, or sharing generators, or whatever else we did for each other can translate into a better place to live and work. Maybe we can understand where we ourselves fell short during this crisis and give a concession to those we think fell short in their duties.
Everyone I could see was working as hard as they could to formulate a plan, to maintain some kind of order, to make sure people were fed, had water and got medication and oxygen if they needed it.
As in any work situation, some people did more than others. As in any outside-looking-in situation, we may think we see slackers when we really don't know what's going on with them.
I had such a visitor from Frost last week. He seemed to think I needed to hold the county government accountable and "ask some hard questions" so I get "some hard answers."
While those guys are in crisis mode, I'm not asking questions about "why" and "how come." That can come later, if it's necessary. Personally, I'm waiting to see what they learned from this experience, what they implement when it's all said and done. And I have a great deal of confidence that they're going to have an emergency plan that includes the things we were missing this time around.
The stresses of the past week have shown me the best in people. I can't thank our family and neighbors on Douthards Creek enough for all the generator time, visits, offers of food and water, as well as finding the humor in the situation we all had upon us. I can't thank the Pocahontas County 911 Center enough for taking a beating from the storm and then the public, and continuing to serve. I can't thank the Division of Highways workers enough for clearing the roads so that travel was easier, if not easy, on Saturday morning. I can't thank the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department enough for coordinating the food and water distribution and for keeping us safe, as well. I can't thank the volunteer fire departments and rescue squads and their leaders enough for keeping open their stations, distributing water, doing house-to-house checks and all the other things they did. I can't thank Mon Power, Frontier, the National Guard, the Red Cross, the churches and all the people who gathered to assemble meals enough for everything they did.
It wasn't perfect. Not at all. But it was a tremendous effort by some tremendous people.
Lots of Division of Highways personnel, emergency personnel, law enforcement and utility workers left their own problems at home while they took care of us. They worked long, hot, hard days. It didn't all happen as fast as we would have liked, or, I expect, as fast as they would have liked, either.
Here's a few shining stars-and these are only the ones I saw first-hand. I know there were others in other communities; please, please send in those names.
Blair Campbell at the Pretty Penny. Campbell opened her restaurant and her kitchen, in spite of the lack of power and cooked food for her neighbors. Free. For days. She and a crew of AmeriCorps interns from High Rocks and other organizations cooked food brought in by neighbors and food sent from the sheriff's department. Support her by buying a meal when you're in Hillsboro.
Charlie Wilfong at the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department and all his volunteer firefighters. You can read the story on page 1 to find out the details. If you live in that area, make sure your donation gets to them on time this year.
Shawn Dunbrack. Dunbrack assumed the role of OES director on Tuesday-Day 4. He went without sleep, without food for hours on end, without seeing his family for I don't know how long. Because every time I was out, I saw him out doing something. Every time his vehicle was at the 9-1-1 office, he was on the phone, hearing concerns, coordinating National Guard and many other chores. The county commission should make his new role permanent.
David Walton and Chris Cole. Chief Deputy Walton and Deputy Cole headed up the food distribution effort in Marlinton/Huntersville/Frost. They were busy all the time coordinating between these locations and with the Bath County Red Cross.
David Jonese. Jonese spearheaded a generator exchange so that people who didn't have power could borrow a generator from neighbors with electricity who were willing to lend theirs.
Allegheny Mountain Radio. What a huge effort to keep everyone informed during all this, trying to get in touch with people in charge when those people had little time to spare. They had updates and breaking news stories and communication about who had power and who was still without. Send a kind word and a donation to those men and women who worked on little sleep, but with great dedication to the task at hand.
Jaylee Doss, Kevin Bennett, Catlyn and T. D. Sparks and Tessa Knisely. These young people-and I'm sure there were more-took their summer vacation time to volunteer with their parents and grandparents to distribute food. They did my heart a bunch of good, as did everyone else who assembled and delivered those Red Cross meals.
If you have a complaint, and I'm sure there are lots of them out there because I've heard them, there's a time and a place for your suggestions, and I'm pretty sure there are some good suggestions, because I've heard those, too. Make them in good faith and not in anger, so that our leaders will listen in good faith.
Better yet, volunteer your time to be in a fire department, rescue squad or anywhere else that responds to emergencies. If you aren't able to fight fires or do ambulance runs, that's okay. Those departments have other things to take care of. Help out when they have fundraisers, go out when they have meetings and take them food and water, help out in any way you can. Most of all, make a donation to them in appreciation for their extraordinary efforts.
I hope that we've all learned something from this. Water conservation is of the utmost importance, for one. Everyone should operate like a journalist in this way-don't go to bed at night with less than a half a tank of gas in your vehicle. Keep fresh batteries around, and get a radio that operates off them so you can stay up-to-date with information. Have a hard-wired telephone that doesn't rely on electricity to operate.
And maybe we should begin to think like our great-grandparents did. Don't waste anything, particularly water and food.
There's one more thing we shouldn't waste-the goodwill toward our neighbors we've managed to build without the Internet this week.
Face-to-face really is better than Facebook.
Here's what I think
What is our problem?
So much of our recent public conversation has been about the value of people "born here" as opposed to those who "came here."
West Virginians have good reason to be wary of people who arrive in the mountains with what appears to be lots of money and lots of ideas. In days past, some of those people ravaged our mountains for coal and timber, left us poor and virtually homeless and, as a result, pretty darned skeptical of why people want to be here. That's part of our story, our history, our community DNA.
But that is not why everyone comes here to live. Some people come here for the very reasons those of us who were born here stayed.
Indulge me for a bit as I take Pocahontas County to a place in time when only "born heres" lived here.
First of all, NRAO is not in Green Bank, and Snowshoe Mountain Resort is not on Cheat Mountain. How many "born heres" work in those places? Doesn't matter. "Come heres" run them. Pocahontas Memorial Hospital? No administrator, although some pretty fine staff people in that office. More than half the board of directors-gone. Doctors? Maybe two. Attorneys? Three. Principals? One. Teachers? A few. Ministers? A couple. Car dealerships? One. No Mitchell Chevrolet. Those guys were born in North Carolina. The staff of The Pocahontas Times is cut in half. No WVMR. No Farmers Market. No Opera House. No Beckwith Lumber.
See what I mean? No one can tell me that Joe Mitchell or Sam Mitchell or Ralph Beckwith are not from here. Not to mention Dr. Bob Must, who was instrumental in getting PMH back on track. I know he was not alone in that effort, but he's the optimist who digs and burrows until he finds a way to make things work. We need more people like him, not fewer.
Let's get real. Without the efforts of all of us who live here, Pocahontas County is headed for failure. If all of us "born heres" were so cohesive a group, surely the local economy would be doing better. We'd all buy cars from Sheets Garage and Mitchell Chevrolet. We'd buy groceries at Foodland and Fas-Chek and Henry's, appliances and furniture at Richardson's and J and P, instead of hitting the road to some big box store and then proudly proclaiming what we've "saved" instead of understanding what we're destroying-those local businesses that we expect to donate to 4-H and soccer and school events. The people who own local businesses are a pretty community-minded bunch; they make donations in spite of where we shop.
Did you ever drive up to Mitchell Chevrolet in a car purchased outside the county and ask for a donation to something? Shame on you.
If you want to be proud of being born here, good for you. So am I. But I'm proud-and lucky-to have some of the people who came here be part of my life. I've learned from them, benefitted from their knowledge personally and professionally and enjoyed their company on many occasions.
But make no mistake, I don't like it when Pocahontas County people are insulted, either. People who have come here should look past what they perceive as a lack of education and understand what we've had to learn to survive here for generations. Have some respect for the knowledge we've gained about planting and harvesting, about wildlife and timber, about floods and droughts. You might need some of that sometime while you're here.
I think it's wrong to divide Pocahontas County people into categories. That sets us up for ill will and ultimate failure. We are a community. Community. The word ends with "unity."
We have our differences, that's for sure. But loving Pocahontas County isn't a native's privilege. Some people who came here love it just as much as we do, some of them maybe more because they've seen what a mess it is in other places.
So that's our problem. Here's our solution.
Let's give each other some credit. If you moved here, give us natives some credit for being smart enough not to leave. If you were born here, give those people who chose this as their home credit for being smart enough to understand that Pocahontas County is a special place.
In the end, it shouldn't matter where you were born. If you're living in Pocahontas County now, it's time to start our conversations with mutual respect.
Here's What I Think
I'll admit it.
I was caught up in the History Channel's Hatfields and McCoys last week. I might have been just a wee bit curious about how Kevin Costner would portray "Devil Anse" Hatfield, and how West Virginia's reputation for the wretched would fare.
I sort of trusted anything on the History Channel to be, well, historical. Sadly, I was disappointed.
My curiosity was piqued at a mention of The Battle of Devil's Backbone, West Virginia, but when the movie implied that Randolph McCoy was captured at The Battle of Droop Mountain, it was time to ask questions.
Although Devil's Backbone is a well-known geological attraction around here, and there was indeed a skirmish at nearby Huntersville, the Battle of Devil's Backbone took place in Arkansas in September, 1863, about two months before Droop Mountain.
As for McCoy's supposed participation in that battle, according to Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park Superintendent Mike Smith, there is no record of the Kentuckian or his regiment fighting here. McCoy was taken prisoner in Pike County, Kentucky, and held until the end of the war.
So, if in the first four minutes of the mini-series two serious factual errors occurred, can we be sure about the validity of the rest of it? Probably not.
I gave up on trying to discern fact from fiction and decided to just be entertained, and so I was, through the whole bloody thing. I had high hopes for the romance between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy and how it portrayed these two young people as perhaps the only people on either side to have some sense of reason.
That got dashed Saturday in a History Channel show, which said Johnse was one of the three most violent men on the Hatfield side, after his father, Devil Anse, of course. It was narrated by Kevin Costner, by the way.
Perhaps a "shout out" to Droop Mountain on the History Channel isn't a bad thing. Maybe more people will become interested in the real history. The tourism industry around the Tug River has picked up, according to news reports. Maybe we'll get some residual visits this year, as well.
Here's What I Think?
That golden green of spring is slowly creeping up our mountains and we are in a time of transition and renewal. Nothing I've seen in all my travels compares to springtime in our mountains, those lovely colors and blossoms are a beautiful gift, even after a mild winter.
We have many gifts here, and perhaps it is time to think about using them. As we plant seeds in our gardens for a fall harvest, we should take time to think about other seeds we are planting in our community.
On Sunday, I was listening to a missionary who talked about trying to work in a village where two factions were so intent upon being against what the other said and believed that they would oppose any project, no matter how it benefitted them, if it benefitted the other side, too. No clean water project, no human waste project, no solid waste project, no road project could gain enough consensus for it to be begun, much less completed. Each side had a leader who kept things in turmoil so that his "followers" stayed in line, and nothing the missionary team did could overcome the disagreeable leaders' words and actions. Finally, the missionary team gave up, believing that another area would benefit from their work, instead of wasting time trying to build consensus in an area where that was not going to happen.
I confess that my more cynical side was piqued to think, "When were you in Pocahontas County?"
In a weird way, I guess I should be comforted by the fact that this kind of discord exists not only here, but is instead a worldwide phenomenon of a most unpleasant kind.
I am not.
So, being a solutions-oriented person, I started to think about what the solutions to our problems might be. I've not come up with one cure-all magic bullet, but I've managed to determine a few. And I challenge leaders in our factionalized little world to not only identify problems, but to offer solutions, to attack a problem and not a person, to stop this nasty verbal war on our county and begin anew in this new season.
So, here's what I think:
ﾕLet's remember our history, but forget our past. If that sounds confusing, here's what I mean. Our history is rich and deep, but our past of fussing and fighting who thought what when or did something you believed to be wrong or insulting-should melt away like winter's snow. We are few here. We need to find ways to work together, even with people with whom we disagree. We need to learn to build, rather than destroy, and we need to face these issues with some amount of respect for those on the other side. No one here is inherently evil; let's stop demonizing each other over perceptions and personalities rather than giving each other the benefit of the doubt that we might be up to something good for the right reasons.
ﾕLet's focus on what unifies us. That sounds trite, and I know it. But if we begin to remember what we like about our neighbors before we begin to mistrust them over something we've been told about them, if we rely on our own experiences with them and not some third party's, if we begin to stand up and say, "I just don't believe that about them," we begin to build a community again. I well remember a Pocahontas County where if we saw our neighbors trip or fall, we lent a hand and helped them up. Now, we stand around them in the road and laugh at them while they struggle to get up. It does not have to be that way. A friend of mine said lately, "Whatever side of the street you are on, reach across it to someone on the other." That is an image of renewal for us to keep in mind while we struggle with any issue.
ﾕLet's remember that the current issue, whatever it may be, is not our first, nor is it our last. In this world of instant and constant information, we are bombarded by facts, but also by innuendo, and sometimes by information that is less than factual, or has been disseminated from a certain point of view and comes with it its own set of prejudices. We need to educate ourselves on issues and not let rumor and innuendo be our guide. Yet another thing to remember is that today's adversary may be tomorrow's ally. Using hurtful language and thoughtlessly slinging sarcastic barbs for the world to hear and see is counter-productive to building community. Do those get laughs, and along with that some camaraderie? Sure. But it dehumanizes the target of the humor and then makes it seem all right to attack someone who has been the butt of derision. It might make us feel like we are the insiders on some joke, but the tables can easily turn on us at any given time.
ﾕLet's be reasonable. The only thing that has trickled down to us from the national front is vitriolic politics. Let's face it. That kind of discussion is not working up there, and it's not working here, either. It's great for bringing things to a grinding halt. But it's not great for building community, or anything else. Civil discourse might sound uppity, but isn't that what brings about understanding of one another? It's okay to voice your opinion strongly. Strongly-worded, even. But if you expect your opinions to be heard, and perhaps integrated into someone else's view, respectful and measured beats derisive and malicious. Every time. It produces thoughtful insight, and reduces hasty reaction.
ﾕLet's begin. What seeds are you willing to plant in this community?