The front porch | Mayor's Corner

By Dave Earling | Mar 10, 2017

OK, I'm going to date myself, but that's OK because I've about had it.

How many of you recall sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, oh so long ago, talking with your neighbors as they walked by? We talked about neighborhood issues, family plans, and the hot topics of the day.

We didn't always agree, but the conversations were respectful. My parents' home at 1607 West Fifth in Spokane, next to Melrose Grocery, had such a porch. Of course, these days we seldom see much in the way of front porches, and if we do, there is generally little space to sit.

Like most communities back then, we had our local newspapers, the Spokesman Review and the Spokane Daily Chronicle, which provided us with a way to catch up on the news. And of course we had KHQ, KXLY or KREM for national and local television news.

As I recall, the news was presented in a pretty straightforward, objective manner, with an occasional interview. Two newspapers and three television stations – how did we ever survive? Oh yes, and there were front porches and home telephones to "reach out" beyond the neighborhood (MAin 4-8710 ... I told you I would date myself)

There was no internet. No blogs, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. No MSNBC, FOX , CNN, CNBC, FAKE NEWS, HLN, or any of the rest. We even had impassioned national elections with winners and losers, but then the nation, and the world, moved on. It was definitely a slower time.

Then there was Thomas Dewey, who went to bed thinking he'd won the Presidential election, only to wake the next morning and find that Harry Truman had edged him out. And how about when George W. and Al Gore dueled for weeks post-election? Big upset, but we moved on.

This time, however, we can't seem to move on. We are stuck. Here we are six weeks post-swearing-in and four months post-election, and we are stuck. Our boiling rhetoric, nasty comments, cynicism, supreme disrespect for neighbors, colleagues and friends seems unending. Well-respected columnists have tried to calm us, explaining how we got to where we are and assuring us it will all work out. But we are still stuck.

Some would contend we should watch or listen to the news regularly. Yet too often the news comes from sources that present it with a bias with which the listener agrees. That "news" then becomes the basis that accelerates the listener's views, and that they feel most comfortable with – and once again, we are stuck.

I may in fact be in a great minority, but I still function best operating in a society that appreciates civility and respect. In a society that is at least comfortable with disagreement without confrontation, and in a society that is not solely focused on bringing some person, group or organization down.

Life is a gift. We all need to remember the gift each and every day.

I hope to see you on the front porch.


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