There are many, many things I love about the small town my family and I live in.
And then there is this.
Where to start? Obviously the guy is entitled to his opinion, although it certainly is based on hearsay and lines drawn with the most random of connections. Without diving into a full-on political debate, I simply cannot understand how someone could equate "socialism" with "sustainable living" so completely. Nevertheless, he is entitled to his opinion.
My concern lies with those who make the agenda for our city commissioners and those who report for our newspapers. I am friends with a number of city commissioners and individuals at the local newspaper, so I do not say these things lightly. But how this individual got on the docket of our city commissioner's meeting is troubling to me. Obviously, armed with powerpoints and a formal presentation, this was not something out of the open public forum. This gentleman was invited to speak. Fine. But if you're going to extend him an invitation, you must invite someone from the other side of the argument. And there are plenty of people in our community who would be more than willing and qualified to do that. Such as Joe Gardener, a nationally-renowned expert in sustainable gardening and living who lives a mile and a half from the city building where the commissioners meet. He's an intelligent guy, a good Presbyterian, and he kicks butt on the Stairmaster at the community center. Someone majorly dropped the ball by not making arrangements for a counterpoint voice to be heard.
But that's not all. I understand that the reporter's job is to report what happens, and the city commissioners did not give the newspaper a counterpoint to report on. And I know the print dealine looms large every day and a story must be turned in for publication. Still, I can't understand why the reporter did not take a few extra minutes to pick up the phone and call any number of people to provide another perspective to balance the article. Reporting is about sharing what happened, but it is also about striving to present a full picture, especially when the facts presented here are so skewed and one-sided.
I am not a fan of socialism. I am a fan of sustainable living. And I cannot see how one could possibly lead to another, unless you succumb to a radical perspective based on something other than just the facts. Which is why I fear there is more going on here than meets the eye. I've said this before and apparently it bears repeating: when we live by our fears and not by our hopes, when we use scare tactics to get our way rather than presenting a complete picture and the facts at hand, we only hurt ourselves. And that's not something this small town - or any town - ever needs.
I welcome your thoughtful and respectful comments below, whatever your perspective might be.
UPDATE: Here's a wonderful letter to the editor from my friend David Petri, who lives in Mount Airy and works with a local company in the area of sustainable living.