Don’t Forget the Good News
Like so many of you, I have been watching the Olympics. It is exciting, it is emotional, it is patriotic. The background stories are touching, the parents of the athletes are compelling as they cheer and cry. It is a welcome relief from all the bad news stories that we see everywhere.
In the newspaper business, there is a saying, “if it bleeds, it leads.” It is an uncomfortable truth that bad news is news, but good news is often forgotten. Millions of teenagers drove home safely last night. Hundreds of gas stations in our area were not robbed. No one killed anyone at the college campus downtown. One politician did not tell a lie this week. Hurray!
But it doesn’t make for very interesting news.
However we feel about our community, I think it is important to remember that it is still a wonderful place to live. There are still good and even great things that happen here every day. When we report on the struggles, the mistakes, the suspicious, it is because we want to make things better, not because we think that we are so buried in evil that we cannot be redeemed. Striving for improvement, ferreting out pockets of decay, bringing to light the bad is a way of showing love for one’s community, in the same way that filling a cavity is a way of respecting your teeth.
Unfortunately, we are all subject to anger and frustration. When we point to an injustice, discuss it and look for ways to improve it, and then nothing is done, or a course for its remedy is chosen that we don’t think is the best, we feel these things and sometimes react badly. We must remember that most people are good people, and most disagreements are over ideas, not over people.
For the most part, the ELA Facebook page has become a wonderful example of a place to discuss ideas, problems and changes without losing the respect that we need to have for one another. Without a doubt, some people are uncomfortable with the disagreement that happens there, but I am always excited to see ideas tested, challenged, and often modified after rigorous discussion, only to come out with a better, smarter idea in the end.
And, even better, we have guardians. These are those exceptionally smart, highly evolved members (we know who they are) who step in when things get too heated and remind us that we are talking to our friends, our neighbors and not just anonymous blips on a screen. They don’t ever try to stop a conversation, they don’t encourage us to ignore or hide from the problems, but they drop a tiny dose of calm introspection into a thread and we seem to magically go back to the discussion with respect and understanding. No one will disagree when I say that I have, on occasion, gotten carried away on Facebook (right?), but these guardians are always there, with a gentle word, a small piece of wisdom, to help me to take a breath and tone it down. Thank you to the guardians, wherever you are.
And now, for the good news –
The community center looks amazing with the new tile! I was in there, a few months ago, and the main floor was cleared of tables and chairs for an event. The rug was visible and I was horrified that, in a few hours, there would be dozens of children sitting on that filthy, stained floor. Joe Miller and the board, ex GM Gil Werner and new GM Allen Roth all worked together to get the bids, select the workers and tile and get this project done, and we now have a floor to be proud of, that should last for decades.
The maintenance crew has really been on their toes. They have trimmed trees around the stop signs, cut the long grass along the roads, and somehow managed to keep up with the mess and chaos that summer always brings to our community.
Have you seen the summer schedule of events? We have more activities this summer than I have seen in a long, long time. Car wash, basketball games, movies-under-the-stars, fishing derby. There are so many opportunities to get out and do something.
And on Facebook – Neighbors take care of stray cats, return lost pets and lost keys. They offer to help the sick and injured, they join to support charitable causes. Warnings regularly go out about traffic, weather, and other dangers that face us. Recommendations for local services and advice about home repairs can always be found. We share more than just politics and complaints, we are downright neighborly on Facebook.
That is good news.