Anger Management

I had a dream. And in the dream, Tea Party members stood either side of me and holding hands we sang “Kumbaya.”

You don’t believe me? It was only a dream; it didn’t actually happen. Nor is it likely. What the Tea Party doesn’t get is that I don’t do loud or confrontational. If they would just talk to me like normal people do, I might be more receptive. I’m conservative in many areas. It is very possible that we could find common ground.

Tea Party adherents need to understand that I grew up in a very quiet home. I have no memory of a raised voice. Growing up with all that quiet has predisposed me to restraint. I don’t do conflict. You can talk to me, but do not raise your voice.

The Tea Party is so loud… so in-my-face… they could be singing “Kumbaya” and I still wouldn’t want to hold their hands.

"Providing truth, awareness and alerts"

“Providing truth, awareness and alerts”

And so we come to the Memorial Day Parade where Custer County’s newest paper, the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel, marched to promote their inaugural issue to be published Fourth of July weekend – an auspicious date to be sure. Some marchers carried placards; others handed out flyers with a philosophical overview on the front and advertising rates on the back.

The paper’s philosophy began with a definition of SEN-TI-NEL: A person or sentry set to guard others, to watch over others, to protect others, and to warn others of danger. Huh? Am I the danger? Or am I in danger? If so, from whom? The promotional flyer added: The newspaper’s main objective is to be the sentry for our fellow citizens and patriots, providing truth, awareness and alerts to dangers while protecting our God-given freedoms and our constitutional rights and liberties.

As to “danger,” I assume the reference is to the Tea Party’s fear that our government is over-stepping its purview as set forth in the Constitution . I think their fear is unfounded: you only have to look at our gridlocked Congress, entrenched along party lines, to know that diversity of opinion is alive and well. As for scandals, never fear…thanks to leaks and investigative journalists, scandals don’t stay buried long.

Guns welcome

Guns welcome

There’s a lot of anger out there. Anger seems to be the sign of the time. Some people signal their frustration and anger by flying a Gadsden flag. Originally, the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag (designed by Col Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina in 1776) was a warning to the British.

Gadsden_flag_svgToday, the Gadsden flag symbolizes a call for smaller, less intrusive government. The flag suggests “Don’t mess with me: I have the fangs of a rattlesnake.  All in all, I find America’s increasing polarization scary. We seem to have no common ground. We can’t have an intelligent conversation: all we can do is shout. Or… in my case, because I don’t do loud or confrontation, I retreat.

The view from Hermit Park Pavilion

The view from Hermit Park Pavilion

This Sunday I went to the Southern Colorado Community Band concert at the Hermit Park  Pavilion.

The same scene framed

The same scene framed

Looking through the pavilion posts framing segments of the mountain panorama, I thought of the Sentinel’s advertising flyer which promises to be “a conservative newspaper with a different view of the same mountains.”

Facing southwest in my lawn chair, I was struck how the familiar landscape was enhanced by the pavilion posts that frame not one scene but many. These were the windows. Not one of us in the audience had the same view. Transitioning to the music, I reflected on the musicians (old and crabby / young and restless) each playing a different score yet making harmonious music as one.

It is possible for people of goodwill to find common ground, but we must have the will to look past our own narrow frame of reference. And we need to talk. Quietly. Not in sound-bites or tweets, but in complete sentences.

Saturday, June first, Scott Simon‘s essay on “Weekend Edition” reflected on the death of high school newspapers. Students prefer the convenience of Facebook  and Twitter. Read the essay at http://www.npr.org/2013/06/o1/i87534165.

According to the New York Times, only in one in eight New York City public high schools now publishes a student newspaper. How alarming is that! Is the younger generation reduced to twits and tweets? What will happen to who-what-where-why and how? What will happen to the systematic defense of a thesis? What will happen to citations and verification of sources? Will the whole world be reduced to moneyed sound-bites?

Simon concludes: “Truly good journalism is a craft. […] It requires not only seeing something close-up, but also reporting it with perspective. It uses an eye for detail to help illuminate a larger view. And even journalism that conveys an opinion strives to be fair.”

I am a long-time fan of The Wet Mountain Tribune. Its coverage and even-handed approach to contentious issues are always above reproach. Editor Jim Little of The Trib has always set a high standard, and his reporters have always delivered the goods.

Can the Sentinel, be open, fair and above reproach? I hope so. I’m not expecting to stand hand-in-hand singing “Kumbaya,” but sorting through the produce at the Westcliffe Market, I don’t want to feel the urge to throw a tomato at my adversarial neighbor. Our small community doesn’t need the contentiousness of the more rabid Tea Party members.

Please, save it for the city where everyone is wound a little tighter.

Please, save it for the city where everyone is wound a little tighter.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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7 Responses to Anger Management

  1. Doris,

    If you really want to sing “Kumbaya” with Tea Party brethren than you should stop referring to them as “rabid Tea Party members”. Some of my best friends are not only African-Americans, gays, Asians and atheists but they are also Tea Party participants. Claiming one is conservative requires a more detailed explanation. I am a fiscal conservative, a social liberal, a foreign policy hawk but I remain as frustrated as most of the public with the current political environment that has seeped venom into the fabric of America and small communities like or own are not exempt.

    I am a long time fan of The Wet Mountain Tribune and I like, admire and respect Jim Little as I do you. Although his reporting has often been stellar, his editorials and occasional sprinkling of opinion into articles have consistently been biased. One would have to dig deep into the archives to find a political endorsement by Jim for any contest in Colorado that wasn’t specifically supporting a Democrat candidate. Not biased? On that note, I along with other friends have on numerous occasions volunteered to to write columns for The Tribune, without compensation, but with some differing views that might give readers a perspective from another angle.

    If you quote NPR and The New York Times, aren’t you limiting your own exposure from a conflicting viewpoint? Scott Simon concludes: “Truly good journalism is a craft. […] It requires not only seeing something close-up, but also reporting it with perspective. It uses an eye for detail to help illuminate a larger view. And even journalism that conveys an opinion strives to be fair.” But isn’t that a contradiction of terms because reporting something with perspective (or opinion) must in some way tilt the subject to conform to the reporter’s point of view? Give me hard news and facts – I am capable of digesting it and forming my own opinion. Confusing facts and opinion creates an entire class of poorly informed people and those poorly informed people vote.

    One should relish the the birth of The Sangre de Cristo Sentinel – if it represents a viewpoint endorsed by ample valley residents it will survive and prosper. If not, it will fade away as a misguided enterprise. I wonder how many of the residents that have already condemned it will take the time to read it and write letters to the new editor expressing an opposing point of view?

    Sincerely,
    Lou

    • arthur m. solomon says:

      I guess I could disagree with several of your comments but instead I am getting out my crayons and writing to the new “editor”
      Regards,
      Art

    • Nadine says:

      Hi, Lou:
      Take, for example, this week’s “Thongs, Not Guns”.

      • How do we distinguish between the “angry, fat white guys” that could be, as described by the Editor, prototypes for The Tea Party as opposed to the other disparate group of individuals? Will firearms be the identity badge?

    • timeout2 says:

      It is always good to hear from you, Lou. I seldom agree with you but you always give me something to think about and I welcome that. I apologize for the use of “rabid Tea Party members.” I did not write The Rabid Tea Party; I did not write an inclusive phrase; rather, I isolated the rabid members from the party.

  2. Richard Pohanish says:

    Hi Doris, Good to hear from you. Scary stuff indeed. I’m going to send this to some of my left-leaning friends. Also, I will keep an eye on the Sentinel. As an old high school newspaper editor, I want to see what they have to say. I am certain that Mark will not care, but a Scranton Prep football lineman (nationally rated 3-star out of 4 so he is very good) just committed to the Penn State class of 2014. I didn’t even know that “Prep” played football….as I recall, it didn’t play in our day. Dick

    ________________________________

  3. Pari says:

    Doris,
    You said it better than I can even think it.
    I would be easy for us progressive types to just retreat, take shelter in our own surroundings and ignore the anger and hate that the Tea Party types shout. But then I remember my history lessons of Germany in the 1930s and a little-known man shouting ridiculous, angry statements. Reasonable people ignored him – it was impossible to take him seriously, they thought.
    Pari

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