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Brace yourself; it's election season, and it's not going to be pretty

September 25, 2012

Often-times it isn’t what a person says but how he says it that makes a difference. As fallible humans, we often see the messenger more than we hear the message. There may not be much we can do about this vital flaw but we all can work on lessening the effects and outcomes it produces.
The political landscape is full of examples.
There are those who will never believe or support President Obama simply because they do not like him. The same is true for Mitt Romney.
I’m sure if you think about it for a bit, we can all come up with examples right here in our own backyard, political or otherwise.
The problem comes when we get too distracted by the messenger that we let a really good idea or philosophy slip by without giving the message due diligence.
We attach motives to the messenger.
We become suspicious and question the sincerity and, sometimes, the integrity of the messenger.
All in all, we can become carried away with great fervor and energy. Some may say that the use of whatever means is necessary to accomplish the desired end is not only reasonable but also required.
This kind of thinking is what prevents others from coming forward with more ideas.
Anyone who has had an older sibling is familiar with this scenario. Younger siblings often learn from their older brother, or sister, by actions they take. They learn that sneaking out of the house results in grounding. They learn that getting a speeding ticket will result in losing the car for a while. This scenario plays out with ideas as well but the ideas don’t disappear; they simply go away to other places and environments where the messenger is safer.
We all know what happened to “the boy who cried wolf” in the childhood nursery rhyme. The people in town became tired of his voice and even though he finally had a message others needed to hear, no one listened. His message was not judged on its merit but upon its giver.
The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once said “We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”How very true this statement is for us all. Basically, we only hear that which we want to hear.
We are a stubborn lot and we want everyone’s concept of the world to conform to our own.
We must move beyond it. We must listen, regardless of messenger. We all know this is true.
Our community and our county are at the very doorstep of becoming a powerhouse in the state. Our population is growing.
Our economic power is building. But in the midst of it all, our only true obstacle is all around and looking at us in the mirror each morning.
We are in an election season that promises to be one of the most divisive in recent history.
In addition to a presidential election, voters in Saline County will punch their ballots in city council, justice of the peace, city recorder, city treasurer, county judge and county sheriff races.
In Benton, seven of the 10 alderman positions are contested, In Bryant, six of eight. In Alexander, six of eight. In Shannon Hills, two of six. In Bauxite, all five positions are contested. Haskell is the only city without contested races.
Two mayors, Johnny McMahan of Bauxite and Paul Mitchell of Alexander, face a vote to remove them from office.
With this line-up and the backers behind each candidate, you can bet there will be mud slung and fans will be hit.
I challenge every candidate in every race to hold back on the personal attacks and make the race about that one thing that is truly important — selecting the most qualified candidate based upon the job to be done.
Many of you remember the comic strip Pogo published in this paper at one point. For those of you unfamiliar, the strip was written by Walter Kelly featuring a possum by the name of Pogo who lived in a swamp in the southeast part of the country. The strip combined humor and political satire and was a favorite through 1973.
Pogo had a way of boiling things down to simple terms. Being a ‘possum might hinder his success in delivering his message but it didn’t seem to be the case. In fact, one of his most famous lines is just as pertinent today as it was over thirty years ago.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
So true. So very true. And to paraphrase a line from the movie “Sling Blade,” “I like the way he talks!” Now let’s all find our voice and let it be heard.

Brent Davis is the managing editor of the Saline Courier.

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