This editorial is by Tim Hodge…
In the New World of blogging, it is not so uncommon for some writers to take advantage of the anonymity afforded to write harshly. In the same way that a little wine can loosen the tongue and allow a person to let their real feelings show, somehow the web fosters the tone and tenor that avoids the niceties of face to face communication.
For most, there is no real harm done. For others, loose writing may show unintended frailty. That is for those in elected office or seeking elected office.
To be clear, it is commendable that a sitting councilmember and even challengers would take the time to make their thoughts known for all to see. If only more of the candidates, incumbent or otherwise would participate, more would be learned allowing the voters to be more informed when choosing their candidate.
Unfortunately, in the past couple of weeks, the demeanor of some have turned from persuasion to attack, and from ideas to ridicule.
For my vote, an elected official should be able to take a punch without showing the effect. Some years ago, we had a council member who did not take criticism well. His tirades from the dais were an embarrassment to himself and often to the council itself. One could see the chagrin on the faces of the other council members. It was not pretty.
A little Rudyard Kipling might be in order…for those in office and those seeking to be in office. One of Kipling’s best known poems is “If”. The first stanza:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired for the waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
Any yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.”
Of course elected officials are people with great passion and belief when it comes to the issues. Of course elected officials are not immune from high emotion and strong feeling.
At the same time, don’t we expect more from a person seeking office? When elected, that person has the ability to impact our lives Don’t we hope for a person who can make decisions without giving in to momentary upset, feelings of persecution or even unfair criticism? And, if in writing a response to another in the blogosphere, that person elects to react harshly, to step away from issues and deal similarly with strong feeling and even anger, does that say something about that person’s ability to hold office? I say it does.
Maybe it isn’t fair, but those in elected office will have to be able to accept the respect and adulation along with the hisses and catcalls. Through it all, being able to make the right call, no matter the flair of emotion; to seek to communicate and persuade even when the opposition isn’t listening and won’t be persuaded.
So, with the following last stanza of Kipling’s “If”, with a minor edit at the end, the following is offered to those seeking elected office. For those that can, I will be leaning toward them when it comes time to vote…
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Your is the Earth and everything in it,
And – which is more – you may have my vote, for one.